Vanguard Charitable Celebrates 25 Years of Giving

Vanguard Charitable

MALVERN, PA — Vanguard Charitable announced that its donors have granted more than $15 billion to nonprofits since its inception in 1997. This record granting comes as the organization celebrates a quarter century of operations and represents tremendous growth in giving, with total grants in the past 5 years equaling the total from the organization’s first 20 years.

“These momentous milestones are a testament to our organization’s resilience and sustainability and our donors’ commitment to the nonprofit sector,” said Rebecca Moffett, president of Vanguard Charitable. “So much has changed over the past 25 years, but one thing that has remained is our focus on increasing philanthropy and maximizing its impact over time. I am grateful to work alongside our strategic donors and passionate team as we drive this critical mission forward and truly make a difference in the world.”

A grantmaker that has increased philanthropy for a quarter century

For 25 years, Vanguard Charitable has partnered with donors to help them commit, grow, and distribute charitable assets to effect even greater change locally, nationally, and globally. On the strength of sound, cost-effective charitable investments, Vanguard Charitable has generated an additional $4.3 billion in investment returns for the charitable sector since the organization’s inception. Beginning as a little-known way to provide ongoing support to charities in need, DAFs in general have grown into a nationally recognized strategic giving vehicle that, in 2021 alone, granted more than $45 billion to nonprofits.

“It has been incredible to watch the evolution and adoption of donor-advised funds,” said John J. Brennan, board chair at Vanguard Charitable. “A DAF is a powerful giving tool, one that has connected countless donors with nonprofits, effectively changing the lives of those most in need. Looking ahead, we will continue to push ourselves and our donors to be even more strategic by providing the tools and resources necessary to empower meaningful philanthropy.”

Over the past 25 years, Vanguard Charitable has witnessed:

  • Donors support critical cause areas, with nonprofits in Human Services (29%), Religion (24%), and Education (15%) receiving a significant share of the nearly 1.5 million grants issued since inception.
  • More than 113,000 unique nonprofits receive dedicated grants to further their missions.
  • Many donations of non-cash assets, representing 80% of contributions to Vanguard Charitable in 2021 alone, which exemplifies how DAFs unlock new funds that may be difficult for other charities to accept.
  • Donor account growth of 41% per year since 1997, reaching nearly 28,000 accounts today.
  • The longevity and commitment of donors to a strategic form of giving, with a current average account tenure of nearly 7 years.
Building trust and donor-nonprofit relationships

Since inception, Vanguard Charitable has worked to build strong relationships between donors and nonprofits to foster trust and encourage larger and more thoughtful donations to a greater variety of causes.

  • Focusing on transparency: Donors want to be certain they are supporting vetted and credible nonprofits. By encouraging nonprofits to create public profiles like those on Candid and Charity Navigator and to keep their websites up to date, Vanguard Charitable helps to decrease fraud, increase information sharing, and speed up the rate at which donors give, especially when they are acting quickly to support disaster relief efforts.
  • Increasing donor commitment: When donors are armed with information and feel confident in a nonprofit’s mission and operations, they are more likely to maintain a consistent giving strategy. The average size of a Vanguard Charitable donor’s repeat grant to a charity is $8,700.
  • Encouraging trust-based philanthropy: Nonprofits benefit when donors trust their executive team and board to make the best decisions for the organization to achieve its mission. Today, more than half of the grants recommended by Vanguard Charitable donors are unrestricted, empowering nonprofits to allocate funds as they deem best.
  • Leveraging the counter-cyclical nature of DAFs: Strong relationships between DAF donors and nonprofits can often lead to critical funding during a down market or a crisis – especially when more traditional sources of donations decrease. Vanguard Charitable donors issued $1.3 billion in grants in the first ten months of the COVID pandemic, responding to the crisis and the urgent needs that came out of it.
Continuing to drive philanthropic impact forward

Over the years, Vanguard Charitable has strived to support donors’ near- and long-term giving. This often includes the creation of resources and strategies that increase the reach and impact of every dollar granted. Recently, Vanguard Charitable has spearheaded:

  • Assistance in discovering charities: A myriad of resources help Vanguard Charitable donors find and choose charities aligned with their giving goals. The recently launched Nonprofit Aid VisualizerTM (NAVi) connects donors with nonprofits responding to the COVID crisis or to hunger and homelessness. The latter two causes are a top priority of Vanguard Charitable donors, who have granted more than $300 million to nonprofits addressing hunger and homelessness since November 2021.
  • Significant savings in the cost of giving: Low fees equate to more money for granting, which is why Vanguard Charitable has championed reducing the cost of giving across the sector over its 25 years. Due to efficiency gains and innovations in giving, the average cost to maintain a Vanguard Charitable DAF has decreased by nearly 40% in the last 15 years, allowing donors to give effectively while maximizing total dollars for charity.
  • Quicker payment to nonprofits: Vanguard Charitable has continually worked to address challenges faced by its nonprofit partners. A recent sector-wide innovation, Grant Payments, will enable charities to receive grants more quickly, not just from Vanguard Charitable, but from partners across the nonprofit sector. The initiative will launch in 2023.

For more information about Vanguard Charitable or giving through donor-advised funds, please visit

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