There are some important truths that fuel charitable giving – including donor-advised funds (DAFs) – and those truths have remained the same for a long time: Americans are generous, and donors want to stay close to their philanthropy.
But what’s changed? Almost everything else. The platforms and tools that DAF donors use to give have changed significantly in the past decade. The charities where donors start their DAFs and the types of assets that they give to fund their philanthropy are evolving. In 2010, there were about 184,000 DAFs in the U.S. Today, there are more than 728,000, an almost 300 percent increase!
In addition to the sheer volume of DAFs, the grants from them have tripled in the past decade from $7.24 billion in 2010 to $23.42 billion, according to National Philanthropic Trust’s most recent report. A review of some of the events and trends that spurred the growth of DAFs is below.
Technology advancements that help scale giving
In 2010, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, Instagram launched and the Red Cross used one of the first text-to-give campaigns to support disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Technology has changed our society so much – for better or worse – in the decade since, including the philanthropic sector. Generous Americans can download apps to give instantly, find like-minded citizens on crowdfunding platforms to complete philanthropic projects and access more information than ever before to vet the charities they want to support. Certain philanthropic initiatives, like #GivingTuesday or 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, became viral by marrying social media and web or app-based giving tools with people’s instinct to give back.
DAF sponsors, DAF donors and the grantees they support have all benefited from this evolution in technology. Online access, automation and the development of DAF apps allow donors to support their favorite charities quickly and easily. Simultaneously, DAF charities are leveraging technology to scale grantmaking activities.