Understanding the Donor-Advised Fund Giving Process: Insights From Current DAF Users

H. Daniel Heist, Megan M. Farwell, Benjamin F. Cummings, Ram A. Cnaan, Erinn Andrews, Rebecca Shamash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing use of donor-advised funds (DAFs) is changing the way many donors give to charity. Despite the increasing influence and importance of DAFs in the nonprofit sector, very little is known about how people actually use them. We conducted 48 in-depth interviews with DAF users, collecting rich qualitative data about why and how donors use DAFs. We use these data to sketch a DAF giving process with four phases and multiple decision points. We highlight some of the common donor strategies that are used with DAFs. Overall, we present evidence of abundant diversity in individual adaptation for giving through DAFs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-349
Number of pages23
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • DAF giving process
  • charitable giving
  • decision-making
  • donor-advised fund
  • philanthropy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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