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Education nonprofits receive the most DAF grant dollars, study finds

November 17, 2021 – Philanthropy News Digest

Education nonprofits receive the most DAF grant dollars, study finds

Education, religious, and public society benefit organizations attracted the most donor-advised fund grant dollars between 2014 and 2018, a report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI finds.

Based on grant data from eighty-seven DAF-sponsoring organizations — which allocated $74 billion in grants, or nearly three-quarters of all grant dollars awarded through DAFs during the five-year period — the report, Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights (47 pages, PDF), found that education nonprofits received 29 percent of DAF grant dollars. Religious organizations received 14 percent, followed by public society benefit (13 percent), human services (12 percent), arts (9 percent), health (9 percent), international affairs/development (7 percent), and animal welfare and environmental organizations (5 percent). By contrast, in Giving USA’s estimates of giving from all sources between 2014 and 2018, religious organizations received 31 percent of charitable dollars, while education nonprofits received 14 percent and arts groups received just 4 percent.

The study also found that total dollars awarded through DAFs nearly doubled from $9.9 billion in 2014 to $18.7 billion in 2018, with grant dollars from national DAF sponsors surging 110 percent, those from single-issue organizations increasing 77 percent, and those from community foundations growing 51 percent. Roughly three-fifths of grant dollars from community foundation DAFs supported local programs, and nearly a quarter of grant dollars not directed to local organizations went to education. According to the report, giving patterns of DAFs at national charities and community foundations look similar but the latter give less to religious institutions and more to animal welfare and environmental groups, health organizations, and human services providers. Single-issue charities have a distinct granting pattern that reflects their issue areas.

The Giving USA Foundation received additional support for the study from the Chicago Community Trust; the ClevelandColumbus, and Hampton Roads Community foundations; Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina; the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ InitiativeBenefactor Group; the Curtis Group; and Grenzebach Glier and Associates.

“The data from 2020 clearly identify human services organizations, education, and public-society benefit organizations as the types of nonprofits that received the most grant dollars from donor-advised funds in the wake of the unprecedented events of that year,” said Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “We will need more data to examine whether changes seen in this subset of data will be sustained once more DAF grant data from 2020 is available. It will be interesting to see whether these new trends hold in 2021 and beyond.”

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