Schwab Charitable, a national provider of donor-advised funds and other philanthropic services, reported Monday that it had facilitated a record $1.6 billion in grants in fiscal year 2017, ended June 30, a 34% increase from the previous fiscal year.
DAF account holders supported more than 65,000 charities and recommended some 309,000 grants, up 29% from 240,000 grants in FY2016.
Schwab Charitable said that organizations supported by its donors this fiscal year were representative of national trends since the November general election given the political and economic environment.
The top five supported charities were Feeding America, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army and ACLU.
Last month, Fidelity Charitable reported that the election had influenced a shift in the charities its donors supported.
“This is the third year in a row in which our generous donors recommended more than $1 billion in charitable grants,” Schwab Charitable’s president, Kim Laughton, said in a statement.
“In the midst of a sustained market rally and with tax reform on the horizon, donors who value cost, tax efficiency and convenience are using donor-advised funds to maximize their tax benefits and charitable impact simultaneously.”
Schwab Charitable noted that tax reform could significantly influence charitable giving in the future. In a survey it conducted in June, 44% of donors and 51% of financial advisors said they expected tax reform to take effect in 2018.
Forty-five percent of donors surveyed said they planned to change the amount of their donations if lawmakers reduced the tax benefits of charitable giving. By comparison, 37% of advisors said their clients would change their giving.
Some donors reported that they were preparing for potential changes by taking advantage of the current tax code and increasing charitable giving this year.
“In the last 15 years, we have seen donors motivated more by their personal values than tax benefits, but it is undeniable that tax benefits make a difference, especially when they help charitable dollars go further,” Laughton said.
“Donors are particularly interested to know how donor-advised funds can help them combine tax and estate planning with investing, so they can provide more support to their favorite causes over a longer period of time.”
In fiscal 2017, two-thirds of contributions into Schwab Charitable accounts were noncash assets. According to the survey, 71% of donors and virtually all advisors recognized that appreciated assets make more tax-efficient donations than cash.
At the same time, 73% of donors said they also gave with cash or credit cards.
Schwab Charitable said advisors could help their clients bridge this “behavior gap” by identifying highly appreciated investments or assets and suggesting ways to unlock them for more impactful and tax-efficient giving.
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