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Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

  • 1.  Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

    Posted 4 days ago
    Hello all,

    I am hoping you can help me navigate the initial stages of our comprehensive campaign, particularly as we craft template documents.  While this is primarily a capacity building campaign, we will have naming opportunities and anticipate that most leadership gifts will involve multi-year payments.  We are also VERY cognizant that the majority of our leadership donors are now making gifts through DAFs and that donors are unable to utilize DAFs to fulfil a pledge. Like everyone, we want to stay well within what is legal while also meeting our donors where they are.

    Does anyone have a process in place for tracking and/or recording these scenarios?  Is there an alternative to a pledge form that allows us to document and plan for a multiple year commitment fulfilled with a donor advised fund?  

    Thank you in advance for the help!


    Emily Shubert Burke
    Donor Relations Officer
    Pronouns: she / her / hers

    P.O. Box 35 | Salisbury Cove, ME 04672
    207-288-9880, Ext. 114 | 207-385-3145 |

    The information in this email message is intended only for the person to whom it is addressed. If you believe this email was sent to you in error and that it may contain confidential information, please contact the sender and properly dispose of the email.

  • 2.  RE: Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

    Posted 4 days ago
    The last campaign I worked on we created LOIs instead of pledge forms.  We had an option for a donor to indicate if the gift would be made through a DAF.  The documentation/communication to follow would not use 'pledge' but refer to the gift being fulfilled through a grant recommendation from XYZ Fund.
    I know there will be someone to respond with more legal suggestions but I wanted to send along some basics I have used.

    Tina Gorski-Strong, P '23 (she/her/hers)
    Chief Advancement Officer
    Bancroft School

    Every Donor Counts!

  • 3.  RE: Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

    Posted 4 days ago
    A typical approach is to use pledge forms that do not create a legal obligation to pay. These proposals or LOIs will impact the timing of revenue recognition, which must be delayed until the money is actually received. However, since they don't create a debt, they avoid the issue of DAFs paying off debts. This is what the big DAF sponsors recommend, and they provide sample language, e.g.

    Tracking is where things get murkier, and the answers may vary widely based on your counting rules, your data feed to finance, and your donor database. 

    One general approach is to track these gifts as proposals/opportunities, rather than as pledges. You can use the probability of winning to set these at 100%, to distinguish them from other types of more contingent proposals. 

    Another approach is to treat them as pledges, but to distinguish them from donor pledges in your fundraising system, so that they do not go to finance as pledges. How well your system and data feed allow for this will determine if this is an option for you. The advantage of this approach is that it lets you use the same data container for what in practice are the same kind of gift. However, assuming you hard-credit the DAF when the money comes in, you may still have to do the pledge write-down dance, again depending on your system's flexibility. 

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:

  • 4.  RE: Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

    Posted 3 days ago
    We have created a "Non-Binding Pledge" pledge type in order to track these situations. This pledge type gets only "recognition" credit, which keeps it out of counting in anything external (such as the VSE report) and from feeding over to the finance department. It allows us to internally count the expectation in various metrics and to steward the donor with an awareness of the planned DAF giving.

    Lianna Bodzin
    Assistant Director of Advancement Services
    Colorado School of Mines

  • 5.  RE: Campaign pledges in the era of DAFs

    Posted 3 days ago
    Hi Emily,

    During our recent campaign (2015-2020), we had two documents for donors to indicate their commitments. Our Letter of Intent (LOI) document was for pledges with typical pledge payments (personal check, credit card gift, etc.). Our Statement of Intent (SOI) document was used for donors who told us they would pay via their DAFs. Here's the language we used: at the top of each document
    LOI: "As a commitment to the goals of Menlo School, I/we pledge $               to the Menlo Centennial campaign as an unrestricted gift. This commitment will be fulfilled in accordance with the following schedule:"
    SOI:  "
    In support of the goals of Menlo School, it is my intention to recommend one or more grants from a donor-advised fund totaling $________ to the Menlo Centennial campaign as an unrestricted gift.  This notification should not be construed as a legally binding commitment. This commitment will be fulfilled in accordance with the following schedule:"

    I hope this helps!

    Vidya Kagan
    Director of Data Management and Research
    Menlo School