• Jim

    June 1, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    Great questions, Joseph. There is a lot of confusion about DAFs, and they are growing in popularity with both middle-class individual donors as well as with billionaires with foundation staffs exceeding 100 people.

    I whole-heartedly support changing your internal policies about DAF gifts. The existing approach sounds a lot like getting a check from an individual or organization who banks at JP Morgan Chase, and deciding you should treat those like they were gifts from the bank, not the entity with the checking account. DAFs are much more like bank accounts than they are like foundations. Fidelity Charitable or Schwab Charitable are extensions of a brokerage business, not foundations making decisions about grant proposals!

    The goal of separating individual giving from foundation grants in nonprofits is because of the vastly different skill sets needed for these different types of donors. Crediting the institutional giving team with DAF gifts from individuals is disastrously misguided. As would be crediting individual giving with a foundation grant that happens to come out of a billionaire’s DAF account after a proposal iteration process of six months of hard work from the institutional giving team. I know, because we regularly get both kinds of DAF gifts at the four nonprofits where I sit on the board (two of which I founded).

    The moral of the story is: look to whose name is on the check or DAF grant who is the decisionmaker, not the bank or DAF operator who provides the services to the decisionmaker.

    Jim Fruchterman, founder Benetech and Tech Matters,