04 February 2019

Setting the Record Straight, DAF Setting Records

Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, published an essay recently entitled “Putting Critiques in Perspective in Pursuit of More Effective Philanthropy,” in which he addressed “iffy critiques” of philanthropy.

The effectiveness of philanthropy is too vital for us not to learn from successes or for us to be consumed by unproductive debates or hand-wringing rooted in critiques that exaggerate, overgeneralize, or at times even distort.

The three critiques Buchanan addressed are:

  1. All big givers just want to preserve the status quo and protect their interests.
  2. Philanthropy threatens our democracy.
  3. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a big tax evasion scheme and generally just nefarious.

We encourage you to read Buchanan’s full essay here.

Just last month, the commercial donor-advised fund Schwab Charitable reported a record $2.2 billion in grants to 86,500 charities during 2018, a 35-percent increase from the $1.6 billion reported for 2017, according to an article in the NonProfit Times.

DAF account holders recommended more than 487,000 grants, up 32 percent from the 368,000 in 2017. Among the most widely supported grant recipients last year were Feeding America, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, and Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru).

During the last three months of 2018, donors recommended more than 210,600 grants totaling $807 million, up from 163,600 grants totaling $655 million in Q4 2017.

Donor-advised funds continue to be an important vehicle for donors to get money to communities and local charities.