Plateau in grant-making by US donor-advised funds
While the business of donor-advised funds is starting to recover from the financial crisis, levels of grant-making remain stagnant, reveals the National Philanthropic Trust’s annual report.
The 2011 annual report from the National Philanthropic Trust,
one of the largest grant-making public charities in the US,
presents 2010 as the first year of real recovery from the 2008
financial crisis. Total contributions to donor-advised funds
increased by 25.3%, while aggregate assets under management
increased by 12.3%. However, grant-making levels did not increase
proportionally. While they remain high at over $6.1 billion, they
rose by only 1.3% between 2009 and 2010 and have shown no
significant change over the last three years.
Eileen Heisman, CEO, National Philanthropic Trust, does not
regard this as a strategic shift. "Even in 2009, when new
contributions to donor-advised funds dropped, grant-making levels
remained high, indicating donors' strong commitment to charitable
causes," she commented. "Grant-making from donor-advised funds
totalled more than $6.1 billion in 2010. This marks the third
consecutive year with such high levels of grant-making."
As for the relatively modest rise in grant-making recorded in
the latest annual report, she believes this is primarily a
reflection of caution. "Donating is very personal and therefore the
motivations behind each donor-advised fund grant vary from person
to person, family to family," she says. "While it is
impossible to identify specifically why grant dollars have
increased 1.3% from 2009 to 2010, we believe this is an overall
reaction to the economic challenges the world is experiencing.
Donors look carefully to spend their dollars and today, as always,
charities will continue to have to work hard to make their case for