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U.S. Philanthropic Advisors 2024:
Professional Development, Practice, and Knowledge Gaps

Who are philanthropic advisors? What services do they provide? What challenges do they face in their work? What kinds of support and resources could help them generate more impact in their communities? Here's a look at understanding the unique experiences and professional needs of today's philanthropic advisors.


Philanthropic advisors play a critical role within the philanthropic ecosystem, yet their professional experiences remain largely unmapped. Little is known about who today’s advisors are, how they learned the craft, whom they serve, and how they carry out their work to generate impact. This research is the first of several initiatives to better understand the experiences and needs of philanthropic advisors as crucial yet understudied agents of social change. The topics of inquiry include the nature of their current work and impact; whom they serve and how they do so; their experience in the field, including role tenure, salary, and supervisory responsibilities; how they stay abreast of charitable trends and apply new tools; and the specific skills and knowledge areas they seek to develop further. We conducted an online survey with 258 philanthropic advisors living in or working with clients in the United States. The term “philanthropic advisors” was defined broadly to include anyone involved in navigating the who, what, why, and how of using resources for philanthropy and social impact, either as a full-time job or as part of the role of a wealth advisor, gift planner, or other profession. 


The field is becoming more diverse.

Over half (51%) of the newcomers to philanthropic advising, defined as having fewer than 10 years of experience, were Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). New advisors were mostly female (65%) and in their 30s (38%).

Advisors in their 30s are leading diversity efforts.

Respondents aged 30–39 reported serving more BIPOC and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ+) clients than their colleagues in other age cohorts.

Respondents are moving billions in charitable dollars.

Collectively, the respondents helped to facilitate almost $13 billion in charitable giving last year, with an individual average of $50 million. The largest category (40%) helped to facilitate between $1 million and $10 million, and the second largest category (28%) helped to facilitate between $10 million and $100 million.

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) remain popular throughout the sector.

Both new and senior advisors named DAFs among their most commonly used charitable tools. They were the most or second-most popular charitable tool across employer types.

With experience comes confidence—with some exceptions.

When asked to rate their knowledge levels in key skill areas, respondents reported levels of expertise that generally increased with experience, with the exception of two broad skill areas: 1) financial capital development and 2) diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), intercultural, and wealth dynamics.

Growth as a philanthropic advisor comes primarily from learning on the job.

When asked to rate several educational resources, such as professional development programs or memberships in associations, all respondent groups described learning on the job as the most helpful to their development as advisors.

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