Donor-Advised Funds and Foundations—The Secret Recipe for Success

It’s a continuing debate with foundation management: What are we going to do with our donor-advised funds (DAF)?

Do you grow this area with time and resources? And if so, are the risks finally being offset by a greater return at the foundation level?

There is no denying that DAF programs are popular and donors are opening accounts at unprecedented rates. According to the most recent Giving USA data, a handful of commercial funds are achieving growth rates approaching 77 percent. While this growth is impressive, the adoption or expansion of DAF programs can be risky for foundations, particularly given that such programs haven’t traditionally generated immediate impact for the host foundation.

These concerns are heightened by the growing trends in social media, online engagement and eCommerce, where donors have come to expect a more interactive online experience for their charitable giving. These expectations go beyond a simple online “portal” to initiate charitable transactions. Donors want a collaborative environment where detailed information on grantee programs is accessible 24/7, and donors can feel more connected—receiving greater feedback on the grass-roots impact of their charitable gifts.

So, where do you go from here?

During your trip to New Orleans to attend the Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations, we invite you to learn about some of the exciting changes and trends related to this topic, and to hear from two community foundations that chose to reenergize their programs with enhanced technology. During two Learning Labs on Monday, September 10, Crown Philanthropic Solutions will highlight how breakthrough technology is supporting a shift from transactional donors to transformational philanthropy—and the “secret sauce” that foundations can leverage to capture a leading edge over the commercial programs.

During Session I at 2 p.m., we’ll break the mold, looking at how the newest technology is presenting donor environments that not only go beyond DAF (delivering multi-instrument information), but also supporting expanded communication and engagement between families, staff, and grantees, and driving multigenerational donor development. We’ll also demonstrate how these systems are empowering donors with the ability to select vibrant grantee-generated content and improving transparency surrounding the impact of grants. Finally, we’ll highlight how the latest technology is delivering expanded marketing capabilities to help drive and retain critical donor relationships at the community level, and how foundations can not only compete with—but beat—commercial programs by delivering content unavailable to commercial programs.

Session II at 4 p.m. presents two of our foundation clients addressing what drove their decisions to adopt new donor technology, their goals and objectives, and how their adoption of new DAF-oriented technology is viewed as key to their growth, not just for DAF instruments, but also through its impact on streamlined business processes. The presentation will address how the adoption of an enhanced donor platform has helped them achieve their goals, from growing online participation (even among older donors) to improved staff efficiencies.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit with us in New Orleans. We look forward to seeing you!

Josephine Sinclair is the marketing and communications director for Crown Philanthropic Solutions, LLC. 

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