In my last article I shared amazing statistics about Donor Advised Funds (DAFs).  One of the most impressive is that their $24.42 giving in 2018 accounts for over 43% of the estimated total giving of $54.03 billion by private foundations.  Most of us know how to access the $54.03 billion from foundations, but what about those billions from DAFs?

Kellie Woodhouse, in her recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article, shares some interesting insights about these not-so-hidden funds.  She finds that gifts from DAFs are usually larger than those given by traditional means.  Also, because DAFs are not affected by current economic trends, donors can continue giving from them when they otherwise might lower spending and other charitable giving.

Perhaps the best avenue for identifying these donors is through the “gatekeepers” of the funds.  Most DAFs are held by community foundations or other, smaller, sponsoring organizations.  And, just like private foundations, their mission is to acquire a thorough knowledge of their communities’ needs and their donors’ charitable preferences.  So, cultivate and steward the program officers of these sponsoring organizations much like you would individual donors or private foundations. Keep them on your mailing list and send them event invitations, newsletters, updates, annual reports, etc.  Invite them to awareness events to show off your programs.

Most of the program officers see themselves not as gatekeepers, but as intermediaries between their donors and charitable organizations.  Most donors wish to be visible to charities and expect their sponsoring organization to know the philanthropic community and help them make their philanthropic decisions.  Last year 97% of grants awarded by Fidelity Charitable included a donor or fund name, and 88% included an address and donor name.

If you have board members or donors who have DAFs, ask them to introduce you to their sponsoring organization.  They will be more receptive if the introduction is made by one of their donors.

If you do not have a Planned Giving or Financial Advisory Committee, start one.  Invite all the professionals who might relate to a donor: attorneys, accountants, wealth advisors.  Often these individuals are involved in a family’s charitable discussions.  Hold periodic meetings for them with a well-known speaker from their field and offer CEUs.  I have done that and had 100 people attend.  They can become great referral sources for planned gifts and DAFS.

So, bottom line: DAF treasure is not so hidden.  It just takes some digging.  Call Mirenda & Associates for a free 30-minute consultation on where to dig.