November 30, 2022

Three Expert Tips for Fundraisers Engaging with DAF Donors this Giving Season

Donors have supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for decades, including, in recent years, many using donor-advised funds (DAFs). Expert fundraiser and Senior Fellow at ALSAC/St. Jude, Sue Harpole, has three tips for engaging DAF donors—and all donors—this Giving Season.

Author National Philanthropic Trust

1. People with DAFs are all around.

They choose a DAF for many reasons—to establish a legacy, perhaps from a big windfall event, or maybe to be more strategic in timing and impact. They have already committed to charitable giving, so we emphasize core messages showing how unrestricted giving furthers our mission. For instance, when people learn families we take care of never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, they see the why behind the need for ongoing, sustained support—for instance, with recurring DAF grants.

2. Directly connect the importance of your work to the importance of donor support.

People yearn to feel part of something much larger than themselves, so we make sure they are aware of how DAF grants can help St. Jude expand treatment and research to save more children in the U.S. and around the globe. That also applies to those more direct conversations about capital campaign naming opportunities, like our new patient housing facility or planned new outpatient center that will transform the treatment experience for children and their families. Those loyal friends who want to leave a legacy for future generations of children appreciate knowing they can name St. Jude as a beneficiary of their DAF. Connect the dots and it will engage potential donors.  

3. Advance your mission with passion and funding sources will reveal themselves.

Personal stories that connect and resonate with audiences will unlock new funding sources, so highlight impact by telling your story. Internationally inclined supporters have helped us build St. Jude Global over the past several years. That accelerated this spring when we authentically shared powerful stories of St. Jude helping lead global efforts to ensure safety and continued care of childhood cancer patients in Ukraine. Engaging examples of how your work is impacting your mission or community can inspire donors to give, either through a DAF or other means.  

About the Author

Sue Harpole serves as Senior Fellow – Development and Engagement for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Since joining ALSAC in 2007, Sue has served in various senior leadership roles, including Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President of Gift Planning. Prior to ALSAC, Sue served in a variety of leadership positions in higher education and academic medical centers.