Eleven Ways Charities and DAFs Can Work Together

Once considered threats, many nonprofits are now actively courting grants from DAFs.

Nearly all financial advisors, estate planning attorneys and CPAs support charities every year.

Many are on their boards, part of their professional advisory committees, volunteers or enthusiastic donors. Occasionally, these advisors and nonprofit organizations contact my colleagues or me at the American Endowment Foundation and ask for advice about how these nonprofits can receive more grants from donors who have donor-advised fund accounts.

Recently, I was a panelist on a Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar about DAFs. The audience included 700 development professionals from nonprofit organizations who were interested in understanding how to best work with donors who have DAF accounts. The audience submitted over 150 questions during the hour.

The recent NPT report about DAFs indicated that there are now 465,000 DAF accounts in the country, up from 289,000 a year ago (though individual DAFs within corporate giving programs were included this year).  Most nonprofits have received numerous and significant grants from DAF donors in recent years, though five or 10 years ago, some charities viewed them as possible threats to their fundraising efforts.

Charities are increasingly welcoming grants from donors who have DAF accounts. Those organizations which understand how to welcome and cultivate DAF donors will benefit from more frequent and larger donations, while those who don’t will miss an opportunity. Because advisors have been very instrumental in the growth of the popularity of DAFs, they can be very helpful in sharing some of these suggestions with the charities they support.

Here are 11 suggestions for charities looking to work with more DAFs.


Ken Nopar is the Senior Philanthropic Advisor for the American Endowment Foundation donor-advised fund.

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