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Are You Doing All You Can to Increase DAF Grants to Your Non-Profit?

Editor’s Note: Interested in the current debate about DAF’s? The Chronicle of Philanthropy is hosting a Free Online Briefing about the new Senate bill on Thursday, Sept. 9, at 3pm ET that will present various perspectives. We’d love to see you there and hear your take-aways. 

A session at this summer’s Bridge Conference* got me thinking:  Are non-profits focused on DAF’s today the way they should be?  Is DAF giving a priority?   

As I think back to 25 years ago when sustainer giving first started to gain a foothold in the US and become more mainstream, I see similarities to DAF.  The early adopters, the innovative and forward-thinking non-profits, who made monthly giving a primary focus, were tremendously successful initially.  Other non-profits caught up (and continue to catch up) but it was those initial non-profits that paved the way for monthly giving success and reaped the early rewards.   

Why should DAF be so important to non-profits today?  At the start of 2021, Donor Advised Funds (DAF) accounts nationwide held $160 Billion.  That’s Billion with a “B”!  That figure is expected to DOUBLE in the next 5 years.   

DAF giving continues to become more and more popular as a donation vehicle for donors.  And not the one-time or low-dollar donors, but donors who are very philanthropic and, if donating to you, among the most loyal donors to your organization.  Close to 70% of DAF donors also donate their time as volunteers supporting their favorite non-profits.   

These donors have high retention rates (75%+ on average) and are likely in your Mid-Level or Major Giving programs.  And they are great Planned Giving prospects!  

Aren’t these DAF donors just the type of committed, long-term donors an organization needs?  Are you doing all you can to cultivate them?   

Here are just a handful of questions to think about when looking at your organization’s DAF outreach: 

  • Do you have a DAF fundraising strategy?  
  • Are you integrating DAF language and promoting DAF as a donation option in all marketing communications? 
  • Are you looking to identify and cultivate DAF donors?   
  • Are you looking to model your donor file to identify donors who likely have a DAF account but have not sent a grant to your organization yet? 
  • Are you tracking DAF donations to your organization?  Are you tracking what DAF accounts donors are sending grants through? 
  • Are you asking these DAF donors to make recurring grants?  Asking them to convert the DAF donor into a DAF Sustainer? 
  • As part of your cultivation, are you asking the DAF donor to name your organization as a successor on the account?  A DAF Planned Gift? 

As DAF giving continues to increase tremendously, the organizations that actively promote a DAF giving option and look to identify donors who have a DAF account are going to raise more revenue than those who simply collect DAF grants as they come in.  A 2020 Fidelity study found that while 42% of non-profits in the last 3 years received a DAF grant, 87% of the non-profits that actively promoted DAF as an option in the last 3 years received a DAF grant.   

Get the message out today!  Promote DAF as a giving vehicle in your marketing materials.  Look to identify likely donors with DAF accounts on your file.  And see how beneficial this giving option can be for your non-profit. 

*Recordings of the Bridge sessions are available until Thursday, September 30, 2021. The session about DAFs  was Reimagining Fundraising with Donor-Advised Funds (DAF’s). 

George Whelan

George Whelan is Senior Vice President, Business Development at
Amergent, a Moore Company.

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