The most stunning changes [over the prior year’s list] were those achieved by the groups that offer donor-advised funds, which outstripped the percentage gains of nonprofits like United Way and the Salvation Army that depend largely on middle-class donors. Schwab Charitable Fund increased donations by 165 percent, to nearly $1.9-billion. It, too, is a new organization, created in 1999. And Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program grew by nearly 19 percent. It was founded in 1997.
The fact remains that DAFs are increasingly popular – never more so than this year.
#1 – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
No story this year had the widespread impact on philanthropy than what happened over a number of weeks in late July and August. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was like nothing that came before it. It started off innocently, spread locally, then nationally, and at its peak it was ubiquitous. Celebrities, athletes, CEOs of major companies, and an army of others took to social media to document themselves being doused with a cold bucket of ice water, all in the name of ALS.
Despite criticism that the challenge was not doing anything to promote philanthropy, the numbers would prove those claims wrong. By the end of it, The ALS Association had raised over $100 million, the fortunate beneficiary of the challenge, with hundreds of thousands of new donors to be cultivated. The overwhelming public exposure of a relatively obscure disease was unprecedented. Imitators soon jumped on the “challenge” model in an attempt to replicate a modicum of ALS’s success.
In the end, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a genie in a bottle, unleashed at just the right time in just the right way. While other trends and movements in philanthropy will certainly come along, 2014 will be marked as the year the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, over the course of just one month, dominated the philanthropic landscape.