This article was originally published on the 501 Commons blog. You can read the full article here.

With last year’s giving trends showing a 10% decline in donations to nonprofits across the board, it’s more important than ever to get creative with your fundraising strategies and explore new avenues for donations. If you haven’t previously targeted donor-advised funds, or DAFs, this is a worthwhile avenue to look into.

DAFs are long-term charitable giving accounts that are similar to endowments, except that individual donors are more in charge of the funds. An individual opens an account with a DAF provider (like Fidelity or Vanguard), adds funds to the account over time, then advises their provider to give grants from the fund to specific nonprofits. 

Because donors use DAFs to donate to multiple nonprofits over long periods of time, it’s important to strategically engage DAF holders. Let’s explore a few innovative ways you can cultivate these important relationships.  

1. Add a DAF widget to your donation page.

The best way to secure donations from DAF holders and start building relationships is to simplify the donation process. Giving grants from donor-advised funds can seem like a complex process for donors, so any help you can give them can increase their likelihood to give.

A good starting point is to highlight the option to give DAF grants on your online giving page. This can be as simple as adding a line of text and a link to more information, but you can further streamline the process for donors by adding a dedicated DAF widget to your donation page. 

The way DAF widgets work varies by software provider, but Infinite Giving’s DAF widget page explains the basic steps of the process:

  1. You add the widget to your donation page.
  2. In the widget, donors select their donor-advised fund provider.
  3. The widget automatically directs donors to instructions on how to request a grant from their specific provider.

When selecting DAF software, verify that they don’t charge the donor a transaction fee to ensure your organization receives the full donation. Also, check if they offer any additional donation options, like donations of stocks and cryptocurrency, to give donors even more opportunities to contribute.

2. Launch an informational social media campaign.

Along with promoting DAF donations on your donation page, it’s important to do sufficient donor outreach via a variety of communication channels. Many DAF holders may not know how easy it is to request a DAF grant for your nonprofit or how the process works. Plus, you’re likely competing with other nonprofits for DAF holders’ funding, making it crucial to market the option widely. 

To get the word out about donating DAF grants and engage DAF holders in the process, consider launching a dedicated social media campaign about donor-advised funds. This might entail:

  • Creating a marketing video that explains how to request a DAF grant from your nonprofit’s donation page.
  • Designing branded infographics that include step-by-step instructions explaining how to request a DAF grant.
  • Sharing testimonials from donors who’ve gone through the process of requesting a DAF grant for your nonprofit.
  • Collecting thank-you messages from various beneficiaries to specifically thank those who have given from DAFs. 

These strategies will not only encourage existing DAF holders to give to your organization, but they might also inspire other supporters to open their own donor-advised funds. Consider including links to pages with more information on what DAFs are in your social media posts to facilitate the process for these interested supporters. 

3. Send personalized impact reports to DAF holders.

A key part of building relationships with potential long-term supporters like major donors and DAF holders is demonstrating their personal impact. Donors will only continue donating to your nonprofit over time if they’re sure that their contributions make a real impact on your cause. 

To show DAF holders that their donations are powerful and valuable, use the donor data in your CRM to create personalized messages that update them on their gift’s impact. For example, you might send emails to DAF holders that include:

  • Specific, tangible examples of their impact. For instance, if they donated $1000 to help underprivileged elementary school students last year, you might say “Your generous donation of a $1000 DAF grant provided 50 students with brand new school supplies.”
  • Specific campaigns they donated to: Update them on the overall progress and results of the campaigns as well as how their personal contribution made a difference to each one.
  • Photos that demonstrate emotional impact: Photos of smiling beneficiaries, volunteers at work, or your staff organizing supplies you bought with donations can provide DAF holders with a clear visual representation of where their donations went.

In these messages, you can also mention upcoming campaigns and involvement opportunities that align with that donor’s interest. Doing so shows them that you’re paying attention to their individual preferences and that you value them as a member of your organization’s community. However, be careful not to ask for another donation within donation acknowledgment emails. 

4. Highlight donors publicly and privately.

Lastly, you can show your appreciation for DAF holders by using a variety of donor recognition techniques. Both private and public recognition should play a part in your strategy to appeal to the widest array of donors. 

For those who prefer to be publicly recognized, consider dedicating a page in your regular newsletter to highlight DAF donors. Reach out to donors ahead of time to see if they’d be interested in being highlighted, then ask them to provide a personal testimonial about why they give to your nonprofit and what your organization means to them. Consider pairing these testimonials with photos to add another layer of emotional appeal to these highlights.

In addition to newsletter highlights, eCardWidget's donor recognition guide recommends privately recognizing donors by sending branded gifts and making personal phone calls to thank donors. The more you utilize these and other engagement techniques, the stronger your relationships with DAF holders will be.