Community Foundations Use DAFs to Give Away $1.22 Billion

While nonprofits across the country were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic this year, community foundations stepped in to help. Community foundations from Oklahoma to Oregon gave more than $1.22 billion to charity through donor-advised funds this year.

From March through August, community foundations increased their giving to nonprofits by 42 percent compared with last year ($860 million), according to an analysis of gifts from DAFs at eight of the nation’s largest community foundations. (These DAFs are housed at community foundations, meaning the generosity of individual donors who chose to give through donor-advised funds spurred the increase in giving.)

Community foundation leaders say the increased giving stems from their desire to supply nonprofits with the resources to help Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Its devastating impacts, along with a string of natural disasters including West Coast wildfires, have placed pressure on nonprofit organizations to meet the basic needs of workers and families who have lost their livelihoods and homes.

The philanthropic community has stepped up, but the question remains whether this level of giving will continue. As we enter the holiday season and approach the end of the year—which is traditionally when charities receive the bulk of their revenue—will donors wind down their giving?

Here, there’s reason for optimism. Community foundation leaders don’t believe donors front-loaded their giving earlier in the year, which is good news for organizations that have experienced continued demand. A recent survey of donors also indicates that many plan to keep their giving levels high over the next couple of months.

There’s more good news: The overall outpouring of support in response to COVID-19 is still growing. The $1.22 billion flowing out of DAFs this year is a fraction of overall giving to pandemic relief. As a percentage of individual giving, DAFs represented about 12.7 percent in 2018.

While all eyes on are Washington to see if another COVID-19 relief package will pass, Americans are not waiting for Congress to act. They have ramped up giving to provide relief to those struggling during the pandemic, and it looks like they’re in it for the long haul.

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