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Q&A From Giving USA 2023: A Virtual Forum on Philanthropy’s National Webinar


Q: Does individual giving include giving through donor-advised funds (DAFs)? Can you explain where giving by individuals into DAFs is counted on the source slide? Is it individuals or foundations or a combination?

A: According to Giving USA 2022: “In the years leading up to and including 2021, contributions to DAFs are counted under the source of giving from which the initial contribution is made, so gifts to individuals to DAFs are counted under “by individuals.” On the uses side of the equation, gifts to DAFs are counted wherever the DAF sponsoring organization is located.” For example, gifts to national DAFs like Fidelity or Schwab are counted in the Public-Society Benefit category, and gifts to DAFs at community foundations are counted in the Giving to Foundations category. The report goes on to state: “Giving USA treats DAFs similarly to how we treat other pass-through organizations such as United Way. This approach helps to reduce double-counting of contributions to these funds and recipient organizations. For most types of DAFs, Giving USA takes the net of incoming contributions and outgoing grants when tabulating giving to the recipient subsectors. The grants made from a DAF to recipient organizations are typically not counted on the sources side of the equation. There is one exception: grants made by DAFs at community foundations are counted under giving by Foundations.”

Beginning in 2022, Giving USA is shedding additional light on the donations to and from DAFs, as well as which types of organizations receive grants from DAFs. For example, the Giving USA 2022 report suggested that most grants distributed through DAFs are to education.

The full digital Giving USA report, which will be available July 11, will include a detailed chapter on DAFs. You can subscribe here. Please refer to Giving USA Foundation’s special reports (2018 and 2021) on DAFs for more information.

Q: How is “mega gift” defined?

A: In last year’s Giving USA Report on giving in 2021, the threshold amount for mega gifts of all types was $450 million. That year, the report included 10 gifts at this level and above totaling $14.92 billion.

In the 2022 estimates, mega gifts by individuals totaled $14 billion, about 5% of all giving by individuals for the second year in a row.

Q: Does corporate giving include in kind/services?

A: Corporate giving includes cash and in kind contributions made through corporate giving programs, as well as gifts and grants made by corporate foundations.

Q: Is the increase in giving from Foundations due to the increase in the number of and/or giving through DAFs?

A: As noted, giving from Foundations accounts for 21% of all giving in 2022, continuing a longstanding growth trend we see in the data. Giving from Foundations includes grants made by independent, community, and operating foundations. Some of the increase is likely due to grantmaking from DAFs held at community foundations.

According to Candid’s most recent Foundation Giving Forecast Survey, aggregate dollars awarded by survey respondents increased by 3 percent from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022 in current dollars. This is a smaller increase than in previous years. Most survey respondents reported increased giving in fiscal year 2022 (58.7 percent); 3.1 percent shared that their giving remained the same; and 38.2 percent saw their giving decrease.

Other factors that influence giving by Foundations include the performance of the stock market (and the resulting growth of assets) and the extent to which individuals are giving more through Foundations they’ve established. Giving to Foundations grew in 2022 by 1.9% when adjusted for inflation. The 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy reported that 4.8% of affluent households reported giving through family foundations as their primary source of charitable giving – an increase from 3% reported in the same study in 2018. Interestingly, a larger percentage of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx donors reported having a private foundation than did White/Caucasian donors.

Q: The report shows an increase in giving to International Affairs and a decline in giving to Public-Society Benefit organizations in 2022. Please expand on what is contributing to these results? For the latter, is it possible that decline in giving to organizations like advocacy organizations is due to decreasing public trust in advocacy?

A: When adjusted for inflation, giving to International Affairs increased 14.1% over the two-year period, 2020-2022. Giving to this subsector is influenced by international crises and in 2022 the most visible examples were Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the devastating floods in Pakistan. In 2021, the central issue was the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, giving to International Affairs reached the highest giving level on record when adjusted for inflation.

While giving to Public-Society Benefit organizations grew by 11.8% between 2020 and 2021, it declined 15.2% between 2021 and 2022 – so the two-year result is a decline of 5.1% when adjusted for inflation. That being said, giving to Public-Society Benefit organizations is one of three subsectors that saw the highest rates of growth in the five-year period beginning in 2017.

The Public-Society Benefit subsector includes civil rights, advocacy, community improvement, and voluntarism organizations such as the ACLU, Junior Leagues, and Jewish Federations. While there is little evidence that trust in advocacy organizations is eroding, there is no doubt that gifts to advocacy and civil rights organizations grew significantly following the 2016 presidential election so perhaps we are seeing the pendulum swing back a bit in this category following the 2020 presidential election.

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