The DAF Donor Identity Issue

From Jack Doyle, Amergent President & CEO

The DAF Donor Identity Issue

The number one question and complaint from my last three DAF webinars has been the same.

Some problems have occurred in the past – and I’ll indicate what those were – but I think we need to give credit where it’s due on recent efforts made by the major national DAF sponsors to ensure you receive the donor’s name and address when you receive the grant funds.

At the root of all of this is donor privacy and how each organization creates its own policies, because the donors are donors to both you and the DAF charitable sponsors.

Schwab Charitable (SC)

I believe all grants are fulfilled with a check and letter mailed to the charity. They have not made it a practice to ACH/EFT the grants by electronic means. The benefit to SC donors is they can find the corresponding grant letter that was sent with their grant. I find this to be a nice donor service convenience.

Below is an example of a grant letter. Note where they put the name of the giving account and where they indicate the donor’s address. I suspect many people miss the opportunity to capture the name of the giving account when they are posting the gift transaction. The name of the giving account is very important for ongoing personalization purposes.

Fidelity Charitable (FC)

Fidelity Charitable is the single largest source of DAF grants. I believe FC donors requested and distributed over 1.5 million grants in 2019. With this kind of volume, and with an overwhelming number of grants to fulfill at year end, they needed to develop a faster way to deliver funds to the receiving charities. They were the first to incorporate ACH/EFT funds transfer to non-profits who enrolled in the program.

The first version of their EFT had some issues, depending on your point of view. Finance received the funds much faster. However, in order to know which donors were associated with those grants, you had a short window (48 hours?) to log in to a FC system to retrieve the information. Then, due to donor privacy issues, that donor information would be removed from that site and could not be retrieved. If your data entry person took some personal time off, you lost your chance to retrieve it. All that is history.

Now when an EFT/ACH funds transfer is made, you receive a secure message identifying all the donors’ names and addresses with the gift amounts and the name of their giving account. All the reasons for prior complaints have been addressed. You should no longer have problems capturing the donors’ identities.

To my knowledge, FC does NOT provide donors the chance to see the grant letter mailed out with grant checks. I can’t imagine how much extra work this would be, given the volume of checks requested. In the choice between getting the money disbursed and recording what’s going out, they made the right call. Everything you need to capture in data entry is right here.


Vanguard Charitable

I believe they send grant checks and grant letters for all distributions. I have not heard of any complaints about them.

Benevity (a.k.a. American Online Giving Foundation or Benevity Community Impact Fund)

Benevity is a workplace giving option for donor-advised funds. It allows more donors to have access to the benefits of a donor-advised fund account (i.e., getting one tax deduction for the total amount of your annual donations). I have heard a lot of complaints that the grant check will name the employer (i.e., IBM) and provide one large amount each month, but will not indicate who the employees are who contributed to you. Therefore, you have no way to thank them directly or share more information about your organization. I don’t see them changing their practices as they really are meeting the needs of the clients – the employers.


A better DAF giving account solution for workplace giving is coming. Look for more announcements soon. They know the power of good donor relations begins with good data and they have promised to provide every donor’s name and address with each month’s grant distribution. You’ll know who the donor is, what amount of money they’re giving each month, and where they work. Pretty good start for donor stewardship!

Lastly, if you have issues with inconsistent data entry on DAF Donor identities, consider these ideas:

1.    Ask the large national charitable sponsors (Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity) for a list of every grant they sent you in the last 24 months, with donor name, address, amount and name of giving account. If the donor has indicated they can share their name and address, they will provide it to you in their report. The report needs to be requested by a representative of the non-profit, the tax ID needs to be provided, and a secure email address to the non-profit is required (i.e., NOT a Gmail account).

2.    Do a better job from this day forward. Remember, you will have many grants to process before this year is over, so get on it today.

3.    Remember to look for DAF donor identities on your ACQ Prospect Finder file as some of the DAF grant checks will be coming from first-time donors who are NOT in your CRM.


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