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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Charity Backing UN SDGs Has $10 Billion

A donor-advised fund (DAF) supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals has leapt from being a relatively minor charity to one with an asset size comparable to behemoths like the Andrew W. Mellon and David and Lucile Packard foundations, as reported by Alex Daniels for the Associated Press (AP).

The SDG Impact Fund, based in Cartersville, Georgia, grew from $238 million in assets in 2020 to $10 billion in 2021.

The SDG Impact Fund, based in Cartersville, Georgia, grew from $238 million in assets in 2020 to $10 billion in 2021.

The less stringent legal reporting requirements for DAFs compared with private foundations make it hard to understand SDG Impact Fund’s massive growth. It’s impossible to know where donations came from because donor-advised funds are not required to identify donors.

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Nor is it clear how the DAF put its donations to charitable use or whether donors to the fund are receiving any benefits. SDG Impact’s leaders did not respond to repeated requests for answers to questions related to the fund’s assets, growth, and donations.

DAFs have quickly become one of the most powerful forces in philanthropy, in part because the law allows people to put assets into a DAF fund, take an immediate tax deduction, and wait indefinitely to use the money to make a charitable contribution.

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Donors are under no deadline to make gifts from their accounts — unlike foundations, which are required to pay out 5% of total assets every year in charitable giving.

“One of the biggest problems with philanthropy we see nowadays is that a lot of what wealthy donors do with their charity is perfectly legal but ethically problematic,” said Helen Flannery, a fellow at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies.

“It’s in keeping with the letter of charity law but not its spirit.”

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