Total charitable impact


The Philanthropic Impact Fund

Since our inception in 1997, Vanguard Charitable has emerged as a leader in the philanthropic industry, providing a low-cost, high quality giving tool and empowering our donors with the resources to make strategic giving decisions.  While most of the grants that Vanguard Charitable makes annually are advised by our donors, there are a small number of grants – from The Philanthropic Impact Fund - that are the responsibility of our board of trustees. Below is information on the funding sources for The Philanthropic Impact Fund, as well as the types of grants that are issued annually from this Fund.


Funding for The Philanthropic Impact Fund comes from three sources: direct donations to the fund, donor(s) choice to name the fund for their succession plan, and abandoned accounts (or accounts that are not meeting the minimum granting activity required) when no charity has been selected in a succession plan.

Vanguard Charitable has revised its policy for The Philanthropic Impact Fund to ensure that even more dollars are reaching the philanthropic community in as efficient and effective a manner as possible. Our guidelines stipulate that annual payout from The Philanthropic Impact Fund will equal or exceed a) the total Minimum account activity  fees from the prior fiscal year plus b) at least 5% of the prior end-of-fiscal-year balance in the account. With this approach, dollars distributed from inactive accounts will get to charities within a year of entering the fund.1

Since its inception, The Philanthropic Impact Fund has distributed hundreds of thousands to charities across all interest areas and missions. In fiscal year 2017 alone a total of $210,320 was issued, with the majority of grant dollars distributed through mission granting.2

Mission granting

The most significant and largest portion of The Philanthropic Impact Fund’s annual distribution supports organizations that honor Vanguard Charitable’s mission to increase the amount and impact of charitable giving. These grants are given to organizations whose research and/or programs strive to accomplish the following:

  • Donor Support:
    1. Educate donors on effective and impactful charitable giving.
    2. Provide valuable information about nonprofits and their missions to allow more informed granting decisions from donors across the country.
  • Nonprofit support:
    1. Educate nonprofits on providing effective, efficient solutions within their mission.
    2. Support specific organizations to increase their capability and capacity to deliver meaningful solutions.

This past year, grants have been issued to organizations such as The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, the only school of its kind in the U.S.; DataKind, a company dedicated to providing nonprofits with valuable data and analytics; and GuideStar, the largest database of information on the nonprofit sector.

An option for your succession plan

Vanguard Charitable donors can elect to transfer the balance of their accounts to The Philanthropic Impact Fund as part of their succession plans. These plans take effect when account advisors are deceased, unwilling, or unable to manage account processes. The Philanthropic Impact Fund is one of many ways in which a donors can continue a giving legacy beyond his or her lifetime.

1The Philanthropic Impact Fund is managed by Vanguard Charitable’s board of trustees who approve all grants and reserve the right to determine grant recipients.

2Other distribution channels include community-based granting, benefitting local nonprofits with which Vanguard Charitable often partners, and champion granting, providing the opportunity to make grant recommendations to individuals or groups who contribute time and talent to help Vanguard Charitable achieve its mission.