Donor-Advised Funds: The Source Fundraisers Can't Afford to Ignore
“People who have [DAFs] aren’t saving them for a rainy day. They’re giving it out,” Heisman adds.
DAF donors as major/annual-appeal donors
It’s clear that DAF donors are passionate givers who are, in fact, granting the money in their accounts. So how can you identify and engage DAF donors?
“Treat DAF donors like a major-gift donor,” Heisman says.
That means cultivating and really understanding these donors. And the best way to do that is to put DAF information in all your fundraising appeals and visits. Heisman, Berger and Danforth all agree on that.
“Getting a DAF to a nonprofit is largely the same as getting a gift from a checkbook or a private foundation — you need to have a good outreach program, get in front of them and have them find your mission compelling,” Danforth says.
That means anytime you meet with prospective donors, ask if they have donor-advised funds. In every email, direct-mail appeal, telemarketing call and any other fundraising appeal, you should pepper in language about DAFs.
Heisman suggests using terminology such as “recommend,” “advise” and “suggest” gifts to our charity through your donor-advised fund, and include making a gift through a DAF in reply devices right next to the check, credit card and electronic-fund transfer options.
Heisman and Danforth say they are surprised by how many nonprofits neglect to do this, but it’s a vital step. It’s also important to record that information as well, noting in your database which donors have and have given through DAFs.
Then it’s all about cultivation and building relationships, just like any other form of fundraising — essentially, doing what fundraisers do.
“Nobody is going to make the case the way fundraisers are,” Heisman says. “It’s not like we have to push our donors to make grants. They’re enormously transactional. People who use them seem to very passionately embrace them — it’s up to the nonprofits to engage these donors like they do their major-gift donors.”