DAF Research

Want to keep up to date with DAF Research progress or get involved?

Follow Updates

This project space serves to support the members of the DAF Research Collaborative Danielle Vance-McMullen and Dan Heist as they seek to fill in evidence gaps about donor advised funds.

Using anonymized account-level data from DAF sponsors, they aim to discover how donor innovations can be data-driven and more effective with the wider goals of increasing the quantity and quality of giving.

For information about their work, see their website.

Recent Activity and Updates

April 2022 Update

New report released! The DAFRC’s most recent white paper, Donor-Advised Fund Account Patterns and Trends (2017-2020), is the first report from the DAFRC Data Initiative

This report is the culmination of four years of research by the Donor-Advised Fund Research Collaborative and the insights promise to be interesting and useful to the broader nonprofit sector. The research is the result of creating a first-of-its kind data set, and the report itself, building on previous existing DAF literature, will present unique analyses only made possible by this same data set.

The report includes:

  • Differences among DAF accounts, including asset levels, accounts structure (endowed vs. non-endowed), and donor demographic
  • Account-level patterns of contributions and grants, including payout rates and shelf life;
  • Differences in giving through small, medium, and large DAFs; and,
  • Changes in DAF giving over time, especially during the pandemic and economic recession of 2020.
September 2021 Update

The Donor-Advised Fund Research Collaborative (DAFRC), with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in conjunction with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, has partnered with the Giving Tuesday Data Commons to collect account-level donor-advised fund (DAF) data from a variety of DAF sponsors.

To date, the DAFRC has collected data on thousands of accounts from 21 different DAF sponsor organizations, including 15 community foundations and 6 religious organizations. The data includes account characteristics such as the number of donor advisors, the age and gender of these advisors, as well as when the account was opened and what kinds of assets were contributed. The data comprises four years (2017-2020) of transaction data, including contributions made into the account, grants made out of the account, and year-end asset totals. Grant data includes detailed information about when, where, and how much was given to recipient organizations.

Overall, the dataset will allow researchers to answer a variety of questions around how individuals use DAFs, how different groups of donors may give differently through DAFs, and how giving patterns may change in different giving environments.

Data Commons Questions and Access

Want to find out more about the GivingTuesday Data Commons? Have questions about accessing this or any other GivingTuesday Platform project space? Send us an email at
If you already have a username and password, the Data Commons can be accessed by logging in here: