The College Donor Digest

The Growing Popularity of Donor-Advised Funds and Education

April 24, 2018 | Joe DeGraff

The increased popularity of donor-advised funds (DAFs) could be a boon for higher ed. The 2018 Giving USA report found that these new funds donate a higher percentage to education. Donors as a whole give at most 15% to education, but donors who choose to give through DAFs contribute more than a quarter. The Giving USA report also found that DAFs are growing at a rate almost three times the overall charitable growth rate.

DAFs are a relatively new giving strategy and the funds are not without critics, but one of their key benefits is how they make the giving process easier for individuals while still providing tax advantages. Since 2008, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has tracked the amount of money contributed to DAFs and found that individual donations have increased year-over-year. As the funds mature, it will be interesting to see if donors giving through this new vehicle will continue to favor education, or fall back to the more typical U.S. charitable donation trends.


Further Reading: Giving USA’s press release and full report here.

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