Brighton Jones Donor-Advised Fund Distributions Reached $17 Million in 2020

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By Molly Norton

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) often receive negative press because so much money sits in accounts over time, with limited distributions to the countless social and environmental causes in need of funding. The number of DAFs has proliferated, from 184,000 accounts in 2010 to more than 731,000 today. All told, DAFs represent $142 billion in assets.

The more telling statistic is the payout rate, which in 2019 was approximately 22 percent nationally. But this changed in early 2020, when there was a 66 percent increase in grantmaking in response to COVID-19.

We also saw higher levels of giving in 2020 among the Brighton Jones community. Donors allotted $21 million to DAFs—up from $13 million in 2019—and made $16.9 million in grants—up from $10 million in 2019, hitting a payout rate of 80 percent. Looking at the funds in aggregate, our community holds around $42 million in DAF accounts. Our aggregate payout rate is nearly 40 percent, still 18 percent higher than the 2019 national average, and up from 33 percent in 2019.

We will work to drive that percentage higher and help foster the change clients want to see in their communities.

Below are some resources for helping you engage with and feel more confident about your giving in the new decade. As always, your service teams and our philanthropy department are here to help.

Online Resources

The Insights section of the Brighton Jones website offers fresh tips on how to approach your charitable giving, from evaluating non-profits to thinking about family legacy. Additionally, our philanthropy-specific newsletter goes out every quarter and contains ideas and opportunities for engagement.

Philanthropic Support and Programs

If you have any questions at all about your giving, from how to set up a scholarship fund to how to connect with good organizations to how to utilize your DAF more effectively, let your service team know or reach out to our philanthropy department directly. We are happy to be a resource for all your needs, big or small.

Personal Legacy Advising

Do you know what issues you want to move the needle on but don’t know how? Are you looking to create an actual plan, involve your kids, and drive real change? Consider our Personal Legacy Advising service, which clarifies what you want to achieve and then delivers a customized annual strategy that moves your philanthropy to the next level.

Community Impact Circles

These groups bring together individuals with similar impact goals to learn, grow, and maximize their philanthropic interests. We are currently running our first Racial Justice Community Impact Circle (CIC). There are still spaces open in our Puget Sound Environment CIC which, depending on CDC recommendations on gatherings, will relaunch in summer 2021. We are also launching groups around impact investing and health equity. Please contact us if you’re interested.

The Giving Game

Every year we host our annual Giving Game, where our clients and colleagues take the (virtual) stage to make lightning round pitches for the non-profit organizations they love. Audience members use tokens representing Brighton Jones dollars to dole out to the organizations best aligned with their values. We gave away $10,000 last year and are aiming to give away $15,000 this year!

Volunteer With Us

The Brighton Jones team is out and about in the communities where we live and work. Shoot us an email and let us know that you’d like to be kept in the loop about what we are up to!

Travel With Us

If you’re interested in international issues, join the Brighton Jones Richer Life Foundation’s annual trip to Kenya, where we visit grassroots health, education, and environmental projects and come away with new insights into the complexities and rewards of international giving.

Molly Norton is the director of philanthropy at Brighton Jones.

This post was originally published on January 21, 2020.

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