We all know of Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), but how much do we know about them? These mysterious sources of philanthropy are out there, but how can we get them to contribute to us? They appear anonymous in most cases.  They have “gatekeepers” that we cannot penetrate.  So, we ask ourselves, “Is it worth expending resources tracking them down when we have so many of ‘our’ donors to cultivate and steward?”

My answer is a resounding yes!  In its current report, The National Philanthropic Trust shares a trove of information about DAFs that should make any fundraiser drool.  I am going to share the report’s highlights hoping they inspire you to mine that hidden treasure.

Charitable assets in DAFs grew from $112.10 billion in 2017 to $121.42 billion in 2018.  For the four years ending in 2018, charitable assets saw an annual growth rate of 14%.  In addition, contributions to DAFs totaled $37.12 billion in 2018, an increase of 86% over the past five years.  However, the biggest rate of change is in the number of new individual DAF accounts, which saw 50+% growth for the second year in a row.  This explosive growth in all categories makes them the fastest growing and most active philanthropic vehicle today.

More importantly, grantmaking from DAFs has nearly doubled in the past five years, totaling $23.43 billion in 2018, an 18.9% increase from 2017.  What other philanthropic source can demonstrate this kind of growth?  This accounts for over 43% of the estimated total giving of $54.03 billion by private foundations.  You cannot ignore the huge potential of this resource and the new opportunities it presents to your organization.

Ask yourself these questions: how many DAF gifts did we receive last year?  What was the total amount?  Do we know from whom they came?  How did we acknowledge them?  If you cannot answer these, perhaps you should have someone investigate the entire DAF issue to determine if you are receiving all you should from the $23.42 billion total.

In my next article, we will discuss answers to the questions posed in this article, and I’ll give you concrete, effective suggestions so you can begin receiving your fair share of this treasure.  In the meantime, call Mirenda & Associates for a free, 30-minute consultation to discuss any board or fundraising challenges you are facing.