For the first four months of this year new contributions to the American Endowment Foundation are up over 300% from the same period a year earlier. Founded as an IRS-recognized public charity in 1993, the organization, which is a major sponsor of donor advised funds (DAF), said contributions totaled $321 million, an all-time high. Grants were also up (25%) and totaled more than $103 million.

“It’s gratifying that gratifying that AEF donors are demonstrating such generosity, at a time when so many not-for-profit organizations are feeling the impact of diminished giving,” said Phil Tobin, chairman and CEO of American Endowment Foundation, in a news release announcing the results. “In the aggregate, our donors recommended grants of nearly 14% of the assets in their Donor Advised Funds in 2009.”

Tobin also noted an increase in contributions of appreciated assets, the kind of assets for which donor advised funds are particularly well suited.

“Giving appreciated assets to an entity like AEF, gives the donor tremendous flexibility in supporting his or her favorite charitable interests, while enjoying the best tax benefits available,” Tobin observed.

AEF’s program enables donors to involve their financial advisors in managing the fund’s investments to meet their unique charitable objectives.