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What’s happening with DAF Giving in 2020?

2020 has been an exciting ride for DAF grant recipients.  For several organizations, Year-to-Date DAF total dollars raised as we approach the end of June have exceeded all that was raised for all 12 months of 2019.

You read that correctly.  More DAF money in 6 months than all 12 months of 2019.

And wasn’t 2019 the year you took in the most DAF dollars ever?

Despite this success so far in 2020, many people are worried.  I  get asked more questions regarding worst-fears going forward than anything else.

  1. Have our donors just moved their year-end giving to the first half of the year?
  2. Are we getting this surge only because of the COVID19 virus?
  3. What will happen with DAF giving if people don’t go back to work this year?

Let’s take a deep breath and consider what’s happening in 2020 and why.

  • There was an estimated total amount of dollars in DAF giving accounts well over $100 Billion dollars at the beginning of 2020. Those funds were irrevocably given away for charitable purposes.  If every one of the donors with a DAF giving account was to lose their job, they could never get that money back.
  • 100% of the funds in DAF giving accounts will be going to charities when the donors advise their sponsors to send those funds.
  • You won’t get much of an argument that charitable giving is urgently needed in 2020 like never before… donors know that… and that’s why they are distributing DAF grants at a rate never seen before, with average grants larger than ever.
  • Amergent provides our clients with historical reports of prior DAF giving by month for as many years of giving as they have on file; consider that multiple emergency response needs have arisen every year and you’ll see spikes in giving to respond to those needs.
  • What is also a repeatable truth/outcome in all prior years in that donors love to give at Year-End no matter how much money they donated during the nine months of January through September. It’s what all donors can be relied on to do!  We see that 50% of what you take in for DAF grants in a calendar year comes in from October through December.  So, what does that mean for 2020?

It means that whatever you raise in DAF funds through September is likely to be matched in dollars in the last three months of the year.

Why does this freak out so many people?  Well, it’s almost the end of June and they’ve already raised more than all of last year and I’m showing them trends that indicate they are going to raise more than twice what they already have in the bank before the end of 2020.

There’s nothing broken with the way the DAF National Charitable Sponsors and the Community Foundations distribute the charitable grants of their DAF donors.  The overall amount of money coming to non-profits this year is unprecedented.  There’s no problem here that needs to be fixed.

Donors who put their hard-earned money into donor advised fund giving accounts know what they are doing and have demonstrated they are willing to step up big-time in 2020 and make generous and frequent grants where they are needed most, to their favorite charities, to those fighting on the front lines in healthcare, and for research to find a cure to the virus.

What would I do for the rest of 2020?  Prepare to have many new DAF Donors to thank, to have many new DAF leadership level grants to acknowledge, and look for ways to put these extraordinary funds to work as they come in.  Don’t change your budget and plan to SPEND the funds before they arrive, but certainly expect your 2020 DAF Year-End income is going to be a very large amount of money.

The more you do NOW for outreach in all communications channels inspiring donors with DAF giving accounts to use those accounts, the more you will take in 2020, especially in the 4th Q of 2020.  Good luck.  Go for it!!

Jack Doyle is a data-driven fundraiser.  He began his fundraising career at an annual fund that had 2,000 alumni donors and raised $100,000 a year.  Over the next 40+ years he helped all kinds of non-profits raise hundreds of millions of dollars.  Since 2016, he has been passionate about helping non-profits raise more funds from DAF Donors who are key to the over a hundred billion dollars of charitable giving dollars.  


Jack Doyle
Author: Jack Doyle

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