Are There Links Among Donor Budgets, DAF Gifts and Recurring Giving?
Did you know that Americans who include monetary charitable giving in their annual budget gave nearly seven times, on average, than those who do not budget at all?
That’s the outcome of the online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Vanguard Charitable, a nonprofit that administers donor-advised funds (DAFs).
This study reminded me of two things:
- Recurring giving is extremely convenient for those donors who are on a fixed budget or who want to plan their giving.
- Recurring donors give typically at least four times more than donors who only make one-time gifts.
Let me share a few more highlights from this study:
- Only 44% of Americans who donated to charity in the past 12 months included monetary charitable donations in their annual budgets.
- Among those who donated to charity in the past 12 months, 38% of Americans who included charitable donations in their annual budget shared they increased the amount compared to the previous 12-month period.
“The charitable giving we’ve seen over the past year has been inspiring in the face of devastating circumstances," Rebecca Moffett, president of Vanguard Charitable, said in a statement. "This survey data underscores that planning and budgeting can help individuals make the biggest charitable impact.”
She continued: “Philanthropists give for a variety of very personal and important reasons, and, at Vanguard Charitable, we encourage every donor to build on their motivations by actively planning their impact through the entire year. This mindset shift will turn short-term giving into long-term, sustained impact for nonprofits desperate for consistent support.”
After I read the Vanguard Charitable press release on the study, I reached out to Moffett to ask her a few questions, with recurring giving in mind.
“Recurring DAF grants are one of the most valuable ways to provide the long-term sustained funds to support nonprofits and their needs,” she told me.
Vanguard Charitable offers the option for donors to create recurring gifts (grants as it’s typically referred to in DAF giving). Donors can set up a recurring schedule with a $500 minimum.
Many donors also create what she referred to as "repeat" grants. They’re not necessarily on a set schedule, but they’re part of the donor’s own giving strategy. (There’s that budget piece again!)
These donors intend to repeat their gifts based upon the feedback they receive from the organization. Moffett shared that 35% of DAF gifts are for the same amount every time.
She has seen a big increase in the role nonprofits have to play in first making sure their organizations are easy to find (making sure they’re listed properly in Guidestar. Second, they must actively promote DAF giving to their donors.
"It’s crucial to continue to communicate with DAF donors and tell them about the impact their gift is making," she said. "And it’s even more crucial for nonprofits to remind donors to give from their DAF, sending them appeals and cultivation materials to tell them about the needs they have and how the donor can support those needs.
Like all DAF providers, Vanguard Charitable is cause-neutral, but it has recently provided a special tool, called the Nonprofit Aid Visualizer, NAVi for Hunger & Homelessness. Available for free, this interactive web-based tool gives donors an easier way to decide where to give. It connects donors with nonprofits in their local communities and those operating in geographic areas struggling with homelessness and hunger.
Coming back to recurring DAF gifts, Rebecca Moffett says, “The beauty of these are that they are unrestricted. And they’re especially relevant to nonprofits in other times of the year, not just in the heavy giving season.”
She backed this up with a few more statistics from another recent Vanguard Charitable survey of the organization’s nonprofit grant recipients that are great reminders for all nonprofits interested in growing their recurring gifts and giving in general:
- 58.41% of those surveyed want to make more unrestricted grants (which can be used by a nonprofit for any purpose)
- 38.64% of those surveyed said they favored more direct communication between donors with DAFs and the nonprofits they support
- Of those surveyed, 33% of those who answered want to see more scheduled grants and 15% want more grants at low volume times
- For Vanguard Charitable specifically, 50% of donors’ gifts this year were unrestricted, a 10% increase over the same time period a year prior.
Well, there you have it. Donors want to help and those who budget for their giving will be able to make more of an impact by making recurring (DAF) gifts that will help nonprofits on an ongoing basis, long-term, sustained, in times other than heavy giving season.
I can’t speak for others but as an avid monthly giver, I love the fact that I can spread out my giving and as a (small) DAF donor, I can plan for it more and make recurring and repeat gifts even easier.
Just say thank you as soon as you receive a gift and keep the donor updated on how his or her gifts are making a difference. That’s what matters most regardless of the amount the donors give.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.