Survey results


Differences in community foundation size are reflected in their different operating models and product focus.

Endowed and non-endowed assets

Smaller, emerging community foundations that may be focused on asset growth typically have a relatively high proportion of endowed assets. Larger community foundations, with an increased focus on diversifying their portfolios and donor bases, are more likely to have a higher proportion of pass-through funds.

Product mix

On average, donor advised funds make up more than a third of assets for community foundations larger than $250M. Although DAFs continue to grow, they don't appear to comprise significantly more of respondents' asset bases than in previous years.

All respondents

  • Donor-advised funds
  • Discretionary funds
  • All other funds
Size of foundation Donor-advised funds Discretionary funds All other funds
$0-$25M 11% 26% 63%
$25-$50M 15% 18% 67%
$50-$100M 24% 20% 56%
$100-$250M 29% 17% 54%
$250-$500M 36% 20% 44%
$500M+ 34% 15% 50%
All 23% 20% 57%

Total donor advised fund assets, gifts, and grants

Aggregate community foundation donor advised fund (DAF) asset, gift, and grant totals all saw a higher rate of increase in FY18 than the field as a whole. DAF grantmaking grew at a higher rate (4%) than assets and gifts (2% each).

Assets $30,599,017,975
Gifts $5,968,522,907
Grants $5,420,982,083

Donor advised fund flow rate

The "flow rate" of DAFs compares a given year's grantmaking total with its gift total, dividing grants by gifts. This metric may help capture the activity of donors who contribute to their DAF and grant from it that same year.1 As with distribution rate and other measures of DAF activity in this survey, data is collected in the aggregate by sponsoring community foundation. Data collection on the account level would be necessary to analyze the activity of individual DAF holders.

39% of FY18 Columbus Survey respondents had a DAF flow rate of over 100%, meaning that they granted out more from DAFs than they received that year.

1Heist, H. Daniel, and Danielle Vance-Mcmullen. “Understanding Donor-Advised Funds: How Grants Flow During Recessions.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2019, pp. 10–11., doi:10.1177/0899764019856118.

Distribution rates

DAFs at community foundations tend to be highly active grantmaking vehicles; more than half (53%) of all survey respondents granted more than 10% of their DAF assets out in FY2018. Larger community foundations, which as noted above tend to carry more non-endowed assets, also have the highest distribution rates.

Size of foundation Donor-advised funds Whole foundation
<$25M 6% 4%
$25M - $50M 8% 5%
$50M - $100M 10% 5%
$100M - $250M 11% 6%
$250M - $500M 13% 9%
>$500M 15% 8%