The Catholic Fundraiser

Donor-Advised Funds: My View as a Fundraiser AND a Donor

Posted by Jack Doyle on 7/16/18 9:56 AM


What are donor-advised funds (DAF)? 

Well. Donor-advised funds are a popular choice for donors to give to their favorite charities. Tax deductions can be taken as soon as a donor puts money into a DAF, and the fund can grow until the donor decides where the money should go.

Since February, I’ve been tracking the donor stewardship practices of 16 of the top 25 charities for Fidelity Charitable donors. I sent in my own $100 grants via my Fidelity Charitable account and have been tracking what kind of acknowledgements I receive, as well as follow up communications. (None of these organizations are NCDC members.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of my expectations and my observations.

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 My expectations were basic and were as follows:

  • My grant would be immediately acknowledged as having been received.
  • Most charities would say when they received it and how much it was for.
  • I hoped most would acknowledge the grant was received via Fidelity Charitable.
  • I would begin receiving regular donor communications within 60 days.

What actually happened?

  • 12 acknowledged my grants automatically. Of the 12, only eight of them had the correct language (the biggest mistake was giving me the letter version for a tax-deductible gift).
  • We had to call and request a grant acknowledgment from five of the organizations; they indicated their CRM is set up to acknowledge the sender, but that Fidelity is flagged for no acknowledgments.
  • We accepted the offer to send us a “manual” thank you letter from these five, and some of them sent a letter with the wrong wording (a DAF donor cannot be told the grant is tax deductible).
  • Three sent us welcome letters with an opportunity to give by mail enclosed or donor cultivation cards (nothing but affirmation/inspiration). 14 missed a natural opportunity to engage with a new donor.
  • In the first two months since all gifts were received, we have received one magazine from one organization and multiple appeals from just three organizations.
  • It’s as if we don’t exist as a donor to the others.

What might be happening in all of these places? Why are there so many neglected areas of donor nurturing? And what might you check to make sure the CRM solution is supporting you in all the ways you need it for this type of donor?

As a new donor, I should be feeling the love from these organizations and should now be receiving regular communications with opportunities for more donating but some still haven’t even acknowledged my donation!

Now, I will extend the time frame of my study from February to the weeks right before NCDC.

Many NCDC members are doing a good job of inspiring additional giving through donor-advised funds. I will share what makes these NCDC members at soliciting donors with DAF giving accounts.

Recently, a couple of NCDC members received large first gifts from DAF donors ($45K and 50K).

I hope to see you at my session “Donor Advised Funds 101: How to Get a Greater Share of a Huge Amount of Charitable Giving" at the 2018 50th Anniversary NCDC Conference. And if I do, I will share some ideas that you can implement by October 1, since November and December are busy months for DAF giving, and you’ll want to inspire your donors to continue to give to you.

Attend Jack Doyle's session and others on this topic at the 2018 NCDC Conference and Exposition, September 15-18 in Chicago, IL.


Jack Doyle

Written by Jack Doyle

Jack Doyle is President of Amergent, NCDC Corporate Partner. Since 1978, Jack has been involved with providing direct mail fund raising and consulting services to a variety of non-profit organizations. He has been a speaker for DMA, NCDC and regional NCDC meetings, most recently speaking about donor-advised funds and how nonprofits can inspire donors to give using these accounts. Jack is a past Board Chair of the Association of Direct Response Professionals (ADRFCO). Previously, he served as a Corporate Partner Representative to the NCDC Board, Chair of the NCDC Lumen Award Committee and as Vice Chair of the DMA Non-Profit Federation. Jack was the 2013 recipient of the NCDC George T. Holloway award for Distinguished Service.

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In this weekly blog we share tips, tactics and case studies for professionals in the Catholic fundraising community. Learn how to advance your mission with articles on technology, donor engagement, nonprofit leadership, social media, and emerging trends.

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