Urban Institute Survey on DAFs: What We Learned and Why It Matters

As many of our members already know, the Council commissioned the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy to conduct a survey about donor advised funds (DAFs) managed by community foundations. The Council is working in collaboration with Council of Michigan Foundations and with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The survey results will help us and our members provide a full picture of donor advised funds and their importance to communities nationwide. They will also provide material to develop common messages to address the following questions that lawmakers often have about DAFs:

  • How do community foundations use DAFs to support charitable activity on an annual basis?
  • How do DAFs encourage new and non-traditional investors to become involved in organized philanthropy?
  • To what extent do families use DAFs to engage the next generation in philanthropy and community affairs?
  • Do DAFs increase the capacity of host organizations to respond to community emergencies and to play a leadership role in public-private partnerships?
  • Do DAFs allow host organizations to take a multi-year strategy in dealing with a tough issue that cannot be immediately solved?

We will discuss how you can use this information in meetings with lawmakers to educate them about the importance of DAFs in communities. Several of your community foundation colleagues will join this call and give their "on the ground" reaction to the results.



Vikki Spruill
President and CEO
Council on Foundations


Elizabeth Boris, Ph.D.
Director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Urban Institute


Rob Collier
President and CEO
Council of Michigan Foundations



Diana Anderson
Interim President and CEO
Southwest Initiative Foundation



Sue Santa
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Legal Affairs
Council on Foundations