New study: Donors increase their granting the longer they’ve had a donor-advised fund
Apr 26, 2023
Malvern, Pa., April 26, 2023 – Vanguard Charitable, a leading nonprofit and sponsor of donor-advised funds (DAFs), today released Why Giving Matters: Donors give more effectively over time with a donor-advised fund, a report that includes survey results of over 1,500 Vanguard Charitable donors and 440 nonprofit organizations, along with a decade’s worth of insight into donor giving behavior. The study reveals increased levels of generosity among all Vanguard Charitable donors, and more specifically found that established DAF donors give more consistently and more monetarily on an annual basis than new DAF donors. Results suggest that opening a DAF leads to the increased adoption of effective giving practices over time.
Among donors whose account tenure is 10-plus years, 71% report they give more because of their Vanguard Charitable DAF and 68% agree they give more consistently to their favorite charities with their DAF. Additionally, accounts with at least 10 years of tenure give significant amounts to grantees on an annual basis—about $17,000 more on average in 2022 than accounts with tenure of six years or less. The longer a Vanguard Charitable donor has an account, the more extensive their charitable impact.
"We are so inspired by our donors’ continued generosity. The trends we see here reinforce the exponential impact DAFs have on nonprofits the longer an account is active,” said Rebecca Moffett, president of Vanguard Charitable. “By opening a DAF, donors indicate their strong charitable commitment, which is further refined over time, resulting in effective giving that enables them to grant more and more often, to the causes they care about. We will continue to provide donors with resources, support, and a low-fee structure to maximize their ongoing giving, ensuring more dollars go to nonprofits in need.”
Tenured giving and long-term philanthropic impact with a donor-advised fund
As charitable need has increased in recent years, amplified by the COVID pandemic, widespread disasters, conflict, and economic instability worldwide, donors are increasingly realizing that donor-advised funds are effective in responding to crises swiftly while meeting their existing, long-term giving goals.
“We give much larger grants and spread that giving over the course of the year, as opposed to doing it all during December,” said Janet S., a Vanguard Charitable donor of eight years. “With a DAF, it feels like our giving can be much more strategic.”
The increased adoption of DAFs has made it more critical to understand the behaviors and practices of donors who use this giving vehicle. This report reveals the impact these donors are having on philanthropy in the United States and illustrates why giving with a DAF matters, including:
- More Strategic Donor Support: Across all tenure groups, more than two-thirds of all DAF donors reported giving more effectively because of their donor-advised fund. This percentage increases to 80% among donors with more than 10 years of DAF tenure.
- Increased Annual Giving: Established accounts open for more than two years have issued 21% more grants on average over the past five years than new accounts.
- Growth in Generosity: In 2022, donors with 10-plus years of tenure issued grants that were 61% larger on average than grants from donors with a tenure of six years or less.
- Greater Granting Power: Lower fees can lead to more funds for charitable giving. After 15 years, Vanguard Charitable DAF accounts typically have an estimated $12,432 more available for granting than the industry average.
“[DAFs have] been a great opportunity for our grassroots nonprofit to receive funding on an annual basis,” said a longstanding conservation charity. “This helps to budget operations and the annual budget.”
To access the exclusive Why Giving Matters 2023 report and learn more about effective philanthropy, donor-advised funds, and how to maximize your charitable impact, please visit www.vanguardcharitable.org/why-giving-matters-2023.
About Vanguard Charitable
Vanguard Charitable is a leading U.S. nonprofit organization that fulfills its mission to increase philanthropic giving by administering a donor-advised fund—a tax-effective way to consolidate, accrue, and grant assets to charity. Since it was founded by Vanguard1 in 1997 as an independent 501(c)(3) organization, Vanguard Charitable has granted more than $15 billion to charity. More information is available at vanguardcharitable.org.
1 Although Vanguard provides certain investment management and administrative services to Vanguard Charitable pursuant to a service agreement, Vanguard Charitable is not a program or activity of Vanguard. A majority of Vanguard Charitable’ s trustees are independent of Vanguard.
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