By Senior Airman Andrew Lee, acquired from United States Air Force.

August 14, 2019; BusinessWire

One more report is in about the growth of giving out of donor-advised funds over the past year. This time, it’s from the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), which saw a 39 percent increase in the dollar amount of grants made in Fiscal Year 2019 for a total of $1.39 billion. There was also a 28 percent increase in the number of grants made.

This significant increase conforms with findings from other commercial donor-advised fund sponsors—like Fidelity, which announced it had seen a 48 percent increase in grantmaking from the funds under their stewardship in the first half of 2019, and Schwab, which announced a 33 percent increase in the dollars granted from DAFs in 2018 at that shop (and, to a lesser extent, community foundations). There does not appear to be a similar increase in giving to the funds, which supports the notion that donors bundled gifts for future use at the end of 2017.

The context here is the present decline in donations from small to mid-size donors and a general drop in dollars flowing through United Ways and other workplace giving programs. It also comes amid calls for regulation and tracking payout rates for the individual funds, which are largely hidden from view. (Sponsors report on payout rates for their funds as a pool.) This veiling of individual funds evokes skepticism in some about collective findings such as these, but the funds’ behavior appears relatively consistent in terms of patterns, at least across the commercial platforms.

“Despite concerns over tax reform and the global economic climate, our DAF donors continued to show unwavering commitment to supporting the nonprofit organizations and causes that matter most to them,” says Eileen Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust. “NPT donors recommended a record number of grants to charities in fields ranging from the arts and education to the environment and human services. In the wake of disasters like the California wildfires, our donors didn’t hesitate to respond swiftly. We’re profoundly grateful that with NPT’s support, our donors are helping communities of all sizes throughout the country.”—Ruth McCambridge