We all see the growth of DAFs: the contribution trends, the new accounts, and the big grant dollars being given out by DAFs. And charities everywhere are asking – “how can I get some of that”? The answer: it comes through your donor relationships.

To be blunt, a friendly outreach to a DAF won’t get your non-profit on their “preferred charity” list. (Actually, there isn’t such a thing most of the time.)

However, there is an approach that works and it’s nothing new: know your donors and develop your relationships with them. Yes – access DAF funds through the donors who have the accounts at the DAF institutions.

Do you know who those donors are? 99% of the time their name is listed on the paperwork that comes with the DAF grant check to your organization. Put those donors on your “large donor/large prospect” list.

Don’t call them up and ask for a donation from their DAF. Play to their enthusiasm for your mission. Your loyal donors believe strongly in what your charity is doing, as do you – connect on that! Engage in a pleasant social conversation about some of the great things your group is doing; maybe the successful music program, the inner-city homeless outreach, the access program for the autistic and ADHD to your arts program, and the creative professional development for your organization’s staff. Give them some options and see what clicks. Ignite their passion and the “how can I help?” question will come.

DAF donors are high net worth individuals and families. Jump to the ask right away and you become the solicitor, and your role is forever about the transaction. But by investing in these committed philanthropists, getting to know them, and stirring up their energy for your mission – that will lead to more gifts, estate planning opportunities, family legacy conversations, and more.

Develop your relationships with donors from DAF accounts. Don’t start by asking for a donation.