Donor Advised Fund Charitable Donations Promote Education and Religion |


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Anna Pruitt and Jon Bergdoll, IUPUI The Conversation

Large shares of grants that donor-advised funds distributed from 2014 to 2018 supported educational and religious nonprofits. This is what we found in one of the first studies of its kind concerning financial accounts often referred to as DAF. People with donor-advised funds use them to donate money to the charities of their choice when they’re ready to do so.

Some 29% of total DAF grants funded education-focused nonprofits and 14% supported churches and other religious organizations during this time period in our sample.

This trend contrasts sharply with overall charitable giving in the United States. About 31% of all charitable donations supported religious causes and 14% funded colleges, universities and other educational organizations during the same time period.

DAF grants have also supported donations to arts and culture organizations and public interest organizations, such as the United Way and civil rights groups, at higher levels than overall. Donations to arts and culture made up about 9% of total CFD grants from 2014 to 2018, and donations to public society charities made up 13% of the total.

This data is part of a special report by Giving USA on donor advised funds. We conducted our analysis in partnership with the Giving USA Foundation, ranking 3 million grants from 87 different DAF sponsoring organizations. As two of the principal investigators, we obtained data from the Internal Revenue Service and the organizations and charitable branches of financial institutions that manage CFOs.


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