How to Engage and Retain DAF Donors

Grants from donor-advised funds (DAFs) have more than doubled in the past five years and have steadily increased since 2009, according to the National Philanthropic Trust 2023 Donor-Advised Fund Report. In 2022, DAF grants totaled $52.16 billion — a 9% boost compared to 2021.

With no signs of slowing down, DAF donors are a significant source of donations for nonprofits. While 2022 saw a significant 5.9% decline in disposable personal income, DAF donors continued to give to causes they care about.

Engaging and retaining DAF donors — beyond simply asking for donations — is an important strategy to help nonprofits secure long-term support. It requires building relationships, demonstrating the impact of their contributions and involving them in your nonprofit’s mission and activities. DAF donors are strategic, intentional givers who set aside funds to make regular charitable contributions.

Additionally, more than 26 million Americans have access to workplace-giving programs that utilize DAFs as the charitable vehicle, making DAF donors a vital audience in a fundraiser’s strategy. By engaging individual DAF donors and workplace givers, nonprofits can tap into a significant pool of potential donors looking to give back in meaningful ways.

Here are eight ways to engage and retain DAF donors.
1. Get Personal

Know who your DAF donors are and recognize them as DAF donors in your communications. Personalized stewardship involves building strong relationships with donors by showing appreciation and keeping them informed about the impact you are creating with their help. Keeping communication lines open, sending personalized thank-you notes and providing timely updates let the donor know their support is valuable to achieving your mission — no matter how big or small their donation is.

2. Be Consistent

Regular and transparent communication is vital to retaining DAF donors. Providing consistent updates on your nonprofit’s progress and sharing success stories will help keep donors engaged and informed. By regularly sharing stories, testimonials and updates on the impact of their donations, nonprofits can keep DAF donors motivated to continue supporting your mission.

3. Show Trustworthiness

Building trust with DAF donors is key to securing ongoing support for your nonprofit. Transparent and regular communication recognizing that they have a DAF shows that you know the donor. Informing them about how their donation is used can enhance donors’ trust and commitment. Providing transparent and clear communication about the financial health of your organization can alleviate any concerns donors may have, especially during challenging economic times.

4. Discover Trends

Segment your donor list and identify trends in giving behavior. When you understand how and when DAF donors give, you can tailor your communication to encourage continued, ongoing support. For example, if you notice that a group of DAF donors makes donations during certain times of the year, you can create targeted campaigns or events to capture their attention, inspire them to increase their donation amount or encourage their network to support your mission.

5. Get Working

Millions of Americans work for a company that offers a workplace giving program. These programs often match an employee’s charitable contribution up to a certain dollar amount, which can significantly increase the impact of a single donation. Identify companies that offer workplace giving programs and meet with their customer service departments to identify mutually beneficial partnerships to help encourage ongoing support.

6. Recognize Donors

Recognizing DAF donors involves publicly acknowledging and honoring them for their generosity. Nonprofits can highlight specific donors on social media, newsletters or other owned channels. By publicly recognizing a donor’s contributions (with their consent), you show your appreciation while also inspiring others to support your mission.

7. Create Community

Consider other ways that DAF donors can support your organization beyond financial contributions. Engage donors by asking them to share their expertise, inviting them to events and volunteer opportunities, or creating exclusive donor networks. By nurturing these relationships and providing opportunities for deeper community engagement, you can create a sense of belonging to retain DAF donors and foster long-term support for your nonprofit.

8. Streamline Processes

Streamlining your donation management processes can make it easier for donors to support your nonprofit, ultimately helping you retain donors and their ongoing support. One way to do this is by implementing a user-friendly donation platform that allows donors to easily make contributions and gives them the option of recurring donations. Streamlining donation management can create a more efficient and effective process for DAF donors to offer long-term support.

DAF donors are a significant source of funding for nonprofits, and there’s no indication this trend will slow down. By strategically engaging these donors, your nonprofit will be able to secure ongoing funding and achieve your mission.