This report examines 2014 through 2018 fiscal year data from 989 charities. For the ninth consecutive year, there was growth in all key metrics—number of individual donor-advised funds, total grant dollars from donor-advised funds to charitable organizations, total contributions to donor-advised funds and total charitable assets in them.
Over the past decade, donor-advised funds have experienced tremendous growth. The growth rate has compounded in recent years. Most notably, grantmaking from donor-advised funds to qualified charities has nearly doubled in the past five years. In 2018, philanthropists recommended grants to charities from their donor-advised funds totaling $23.42 billion. The same rapid growth also applies to contributions to donor-advised funds, which totaled $37.12 billion in 2018. This represents an 86 percent increase in contributions over the past five years.
The biggest rate of change is occurring in the number of individual donor-advised fund accounts. For the second year in a row, there was growth above 50 percent in the number of new donor-advised fund accounts. This growth has been driven in large part by a few new donor-advised fund sponsors that are using donor-advised funds in flexible ways, such as facilitating employee giving. These emerging models for donor-advised funds typically have no minimums, stay in cash and make smaller grants to charities. More traditional donor-advised fund models often support lifetime and legacy giving with investment options that can support multi-generational giving.