Grants from donor-advised funds grow

While the volatile stock markets of 2008 took a toll on donor-advised funds across the U.S., the amount paid out in grants jumped, a new study says.

Total assets in donor-advised funds fell 2.4 percent in 2008 to $28.7 billion, but grants paid out from the funds totaled $6.7 billion, an increase of 19.4 percent, says the study from the National Philanthropic Trust.

Contributions to donor-advised funds also grew, increasing 2.2 percent to $9.1 billion, and almost 148,600 new funds were created in 2008, a jump of 10.6 percent over 2007.

While the decline in assets was the first year-over-year drop for donor-advised funds, the field outperformed the assets of private foundations, which lost an average of 22 percent in 2008.

Funds held at community foundations lost 8.5 percent of their value in 2008, more than funds held by commercial groups or faith-based organizations.

However, community foundations’ donors were more generous, with contributions up 15.4 percent and grantmaking up 33.2 percent.

And funds at community foundations had an average value of $340,003 in 2008, more than double the averages for funds hosted by commercial or faith-based groups.

Given the state of the economy last year, it is unlikely that contributions to donor-advised funds will rebound significantly before 2010 or 2011, the study says.

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