Are You Prepared for Success?

By Jack Doyle, Amergent President & CEO

This won’t be the last time I ask this question. I ask it a lot.

Today we’ll deal with something plucked from the internet on DAF donor data entry.

If you follow the AFP Open Forum on all subjects, you might have seen a lot of comments about DAF data entry. I usually find this open forum very helpful, but it is open to all and I think they publish anything anyone says. So, if a Major Gift Officer is asking a question about the best way to record a DAF grant from a major donor, and a data entry person at another organization answers, “This is what I do” – is this helpful?

Many of the recent responses were based on work-arounds to make the reports work, or because doing it the right way takes too long.

It all began with this question:

“When we receive a donation through a DAF, we hard credit the DAF and soft credit the donor. Is that best practice? All of this soft crediting makes it hard to run a clean report. (Our CRM is eTapestry.)”

Answers included:

  1. DAFs – you should hard credit the foundation or other institution that is holding the DAF and soft credit the DAF donor. In reality, they have already given those funds to the foundation and gotten their tax deduction, so they don’t get it twice.
  2. We make the hard credit from whomever the check is from. Then we soft credit the individual.

Then you get:

  1. I’ve used RE and now DP. In order to avoid confusion, I hard credit the donor with all gifts and soft credit the org. that sent (i.e. Community Foundation). This helps when pulling a report, when you need to know total giving history. Before I started doing this, I had to look up the actual donor and hope the last database person entered good info.
  2. I do this: hard credit the donor. We are getting a lot of gifts in the $250-$500 range from donor-advised funds. It does not make sense to me to keep soft-crediting these donors, as I think it will cause confusion down the line. These donors get a different acknowledgment that does not have tax information, but I credit them to reflect their role: they are the donor.
  3. I hard credit the donor as well. We added DAF as an appeal to make it easier to report that type of giving.

Then the planets in the universe came back into their correct orbits with this advice from Sunil Prasad—to which I have added my thoughts:

I recommend creating an Organization account for third party giving and an Individual account for the donor that gives via the charitable fund. A relationship should be created to link the two accounts.

For example, Schwab Charitable should have its own organization account, as should each person that gives from a DAF giving account (such as Smith Family Charitable Trust). Both of these accounts are Organization-type accounts. Both will have the same address since all checks are coming from that one place. A relationship should be created to link the two accounts.

You will need an Individual donor account for Mr. Smith (and his family) that owns the charitable trust. When you receive a DAF payment from Schwab from Smith’s charitable trust, you create an opportunity for Smith Charitable Trust and allocate Mr. Smith as the main contact for that opportunity.

Mr. Smith will get soft credited and when you run an individual report it will pull Smith. If it is not attached to an individual, DAFs and other organization-based third party giving won’t be pulled in reports.

How would this look in Portfolio, our CRM?

  • Schwab Charitable (organization) 211 Main Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • Doyle Family Giving Account (organization) 211 Main Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
  • Relationship is created between Schwab Charitable and Doyle Family Giving Account
  • John T. Doyle (individual) at home address, or
  • John T. Doyle (individual) at work address (DON’T HAVE BOTH)

All of my DAF giving should be recorded as a hard credit to the Doyle Family Giving Account and a corresponding soft credit goes into my individual donor record.

I’ve been told that many of you have not captured the incoming information and have not looked to match the DAF grant with an existing individual donor in the donor base or even looked at the prospecting file. There’s nothing you can do about prior omissions to detail.

But you can insist on doing the proper donor research on this from today on. Is that harsh? My perspective is as a donor. I receive multiple thank you letters indicating the sponsor (Fidelity Charitable or Schwab Charitable) has informed the charity of the name of our giving account and they were able to find our individual donor record at the home address provided—for the critical LAST piece of the puzzle—soft crediting the donor record they use for ongoing communications and appeals.

Here’s an example of a test I did to see if they were paying attention. I switched to a different account. I have one individual donor record with soft credits from two sources for our recurring monthly gift.


Remember the question, “Are You Prepared for Success?”

The overall number of grants you received last year will be a small number compared to the number you will be getting in the years ahead. Preparing now for best practices will allow you to regularly communicate effectively to your DAF donors’ satisfaction.

AARP Foundation is prepared for my surprises. And all of these other examples have the information they need to create the right data entry practices for effective future donor communications. You should be preparing to do this too!

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