2009 Survey on Donor Advised Funds: Donor Advised Funds Provide the Majority of Grant Funds Awarded by Community Foundations

Donor advised funds are increasing in number and importance in the U.S. as more individuals, families, and organizations adopt this vehicle of philanthropic giving. A donor advised fund enables a third party, usually a community foundation or other institution, to manage and distribute funds to causes suggested by the donor. The donor receives tax advantages and the convenience of having philanthropic recommendations administered by the third party while avoiding the expense of establishing a foundation. Critically, donor advised funds democratize charitable giving. Donors can establish such funds with relatively limited assets, in some cases as low as $5,000.

The Council on Foundations, in conjunction with the Community Foundations Leadership Team, conducted a web-based survey of community foundations in late June through August 2008. The survey aimed to obtain comprehensive information on:

  • the amount of assets held in donor advised funds
  • the range of sizes of individual donor advised funds
  • the amount spent from these funds
  • the areas these funds supported in 2007

This report presents a detailed look at the donor advised funds held in 2007 by 137 community foundations that answered the survey. Together, the responding organizations hold half of all community foundation assets.

Read the full report.