- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2021

America’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and racial-justice organizations saw a 341% increase in donations over the past year from a number of donor-advised funds (DAFs).

Directed giving to the schools and other groups zoomed from $28.28 million in 2019 to $124.65 million last year with the lion’s share going to HBCUs, according to numbers released Thursday by the Giving USA Foundation.

The HBCU giving from the DAFs mirrored major gifts in 2020 from philanthropists including MacKenzie Scott, who gave to District-based Howard University, Tuskegee University and other HBCUs.

Donors Reed Hastings and Patty Quillen were reported as giving a total of $120 million to the United Negro College Fund as well as Spelman College and Morehouse College. It’s not known whether these donations were made through DAFs, however.

DAFs are a popular way for many individuals to make large charitable gifts and realize immediate tax benefits while having a say as funds are disbursed over a period of years. This latest study tracked $74 billion in grant money from DAFs to more than 240,000 recipient nonprofit organizations, the foundation said.

One of the striking results of the study are the stark differences between allocations from donor-advised funds to educational and religious charities versus overall charitable giving.

Looking at DAF donations from 2014 to 2018, the new study reports educational causes received 29% of DAF giving, but just 14% of overall giving. Religious organizations received 31% of overall giving, but just 14% of DAFs.

“Giving to HBCUs and other racial justice organizations grew from 1.5 percent of total grant dollars in 2019 to 4.9 percent of total grant dollars in 2020,” according to the document.

The text of “Giving USA Special Report, Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights” was researched and written by scholars at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

One of the Lilly School of Philanthropy researchers involved in the study said it is too early to determine whether the trends will continue.

“The data from 2020 clearly identify human services organizations, education, and public-society benefit organizations as the types of nonprofits that received the most grant dollars from donor-advised funds in the wake of the unprecedented events of that year,” Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the school, said in a statement.

“We will need more data to examine whether changes seen in this subset of data will be sustained once more DAF grant data from 2020 is available. It will be interesting to see whether these new trends hold in 2021 and beyond,” she said.

The Washington Times contacted both the UNCF and Howard University for comment, but neither responded immediately.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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