What You Need to Know
- DAFs allow donors to take tax deductions now on money to be given to charity in the future.
- Charities receive a smaller share of donated money now than they did before the introduction of DAFs.
- The amount of assets in DAFs and private foundations has grown dramatically in the past 30 years.
New research from the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good has turned up no evidence that the expansion of donor-advised funds has led to an increase in individual charitable giving, which has remained largely constant as a percentage of disposable income.
Indeed, DAFs’ proliferation may have come at the expense to charities of as much a $300 billion between 2014 and 2018, researchers found.
Madoff and Andreoni found that while individual giving has remained largely constant, it has shifted significantly toward donations to DAFs and private foundations, and away from direct giving to charities.
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Combined giving to these vehicles rose from 5% in 1991 to 28% in 2019, an increase of 460%.
The value of assets in private foundations and DAFs has increased significantly over the past 30 years, from $165 billion in 1991 to $996 billion in the former, and from $32 billion in 2007 to $142 billion in the latter.
“Together these figures show the extent to which contributions to private foundations and donor-advised funds are remaining and growing inside these vehicles rather than being distributed to charity,” Madoff and Andreoni write.