Donating to charity (Photo: Thinkstock)

Schwab Charitable, a donor-advised fund sponsor, recently reported that in fiscal year 2018 (ended June 30), its account holders recommended more than 420,000 grants representing nearly $2 billion in charitable gifts.

The dollar total exceeded the previous fiscal year total by 20%. Since Schwab Charitable’s inception two decades ago, donors have recommended $10 billion in grants to some 130,000 charities.

In fiscal 2018, Schwab Charitable donors recommended 36% more grants than in fiscal 2017 and supported 78,000 charities. The most widely supported ones were Feeding America, The Red Cross, Planned Parenthood, The Salvation Army and Doctors Without Borders.

“Strong market performance, disaster relief and uncertainty about tax reform drove giving in the second half of 2017,” Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable, said in a statement. “And while time will tell how the new tax law affects charitable giving, the strong start to 2018 suggests that our philanthropically minded donors will continue giving generously even in this new tax and market environment.”

Throughout the fiscal year, 50% of Schwab Charitable’s existing account holders re-contributed to their DAF, and robust giving continued in the first half of 2018. In the January-to-June period, donors recommended upward of $925 million in grants, 40% more than in the same period last year.

In January, Schwab Charitable reported that it had facilitated some $1.6 billion in grants to 71,000 nonprofit organizations in calendar year 2017.

The fiscal year report showed that giving appreciated investments to charity continued to have significant potential benefits under the new tax code. According to the report, 74% of contributions to Schwab Charitable in fiscal 2018 were non-cash assets.

The sponsor noted that by contributing non-cash assets that have been held for more than one year to a DAF, individuals can potentially increase the amount available for charity by up to 20% compared with selling the assets and donating the proceeds.

The new tax law may also enable more donors who otherwise might take the standard deduction to concentrate their charitable giving every few years so that they can itemize and get the full tax benefit from their charitable gifts, a strategy a DAF can make simple to apply, according to Schwab Charitable.

In a survey it conducted last year, 68% of Schwab Charitable donors reported that they gave more than they otherwise would have because they had a DAF account.

Schwab Charitable said donors can also invest assets in their DAF account for tax-free growth ahead of future granting, with the goal of increasing the amount available for grants to charity over time. Since the sponsor’s inception, investment growth has generated almost $3 billion in additional funds to support philanthropy.