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dafDonor-advised funds (DAFs) have been a convenient way for a company or individual to donate money to a charity or nonprofit organization of their choice for years. Despite the ease of donating through a DAF, many companies and people instead chose to donate through check, cash, and credit cards. DAF Direct is a web application that makes it easier than ever to donate money through a DAF whether it’s $50 or $30,000. And because the owner of the DAF has a say on how that money is used, many people are turning to it as a means to make sure their donation is being used efficiently.


In Use
According to the National Philanthropic Trust 2013 Donor-advised Fund Report; DAF funds were responsible for $8.6 billion in donations and grants to nonprofits across the world. This is a significant amount of money, but the people behind DAF Direct knew that if they could just simplify the process of donating through a donor-advised fund, that $8.6 billion could rise dramatically within the next few years.

DAF Direct started off with ten nonprofit organizations through Fidelity Charitable in 2013. These nonprofits included theDAF Direct web application on their website allowing their donors to donate through their DAF fund while still on the nonprofit’s webpage. Therefore, there was no separate window, no new tabs, the only thing a DAF owner had to do was log into their donor-advised fund to make a donation. In addition to Fidelity Charitable, today the web application works with Schwab Charitable and Greater Kansas City Community Foundation with plans on expanding to other DAF sponsors in the future. To date, over 600 nonprofit organizations have downloaded the app to use on their website.

Technology Employed
To download the web application an organization has to have a volunteer or employee who is somewhat tech savvy. It is not as simple as just downloading the app. An organization must be able to code the widget onto their website. Once benefactors enter their information (name, email, DAF account), the organization must have an application such as Silverpop or Cloudwall to sort the information out and store it in their database, a process that takes at least two weeks to execute.  

Ease of Use
Once the widget is coded on the website, it’s extremely easy to use. Those wishing to make a donation simply enter in their name and the amount of money they wish to contribute and they are finished without ever having to leave the nonprofit’s webpage. What becomes difficult for an organization is getting the widget implemented onto their site. If the widget is not coded properly, the information the DAF donor enters will not be saved and the organization will have no record that a donation was ever made.

Recap
DAF Direct is a web application that makes it easy to donate to nonprofit organizations using a donor-advised fund. The benefactor would be able to donate to the organization without leaving the nonprofit's website saving the donor time and hassle.

Advantages
  • It's great to have different ways to donate, thus reaching more people.
    DAF donations are stereotypically a large sum of money whether it's $1,000 or $30,000. With DAF Direct, a DAF owner could donate $50 or $100 as there is no pressure to donate a certain amount. 
  • Although DAF Direct hasn't been around for awhile, it's been turning heads since it's inception. In fact, the PAN Challenge did a case study of DAF Direct in 2013. The findings showed the ease of donating through DAF Direct and the benefits it not only gave to the nonprofit organization but to the donors as well.
  • A DAF Owner who wishes to donate doesn't have to leave the nonprofit's webpage. That means no new windows or tabs. 
  • It's easier than it's ever been to bestow money through a DAF.

  • Disadvantages
  • Although once the widget is coded into the website, it's extremely easy to use, getting to that point could prove difficult for the nonprofit organization.
  • The nonprofit must not only code the widget but have some sort of software to collect and store the data once the contribution is made. 

  • Opinion
    DAF Direct is by far one of the most technically advanced products I've reviewed in the sense that you can't just download it and be finished. There is no manuals or instructions, and you must have a coder in your midst to code the widget while having a cloud database to filter the results. It goes further than just calling a number and asking for help. DAF Direct can give you pointers, but if the widget is not set up properly you could be missing out on numerous donations. Therefore, it's important you test it out before putting it out for public consumption.

    That being said, DAF Direct is changing the way we give, and with DAF, owners do have some say on where their money is going. With check or credit card donations, donors don't have this luxury. This makes sure that executives of the nonprofits don't line the pockets with donations and instead they're used where it matters the most.    

    I also believe it's a well thought out plan. Already, there has been two case studies on the organization which have both been nothing but positive. The support for DAF Direct is overwhelming and the amount of nonprofits using it is massive. What started off as ten nonprofits have quickly turned to over 600. Not to mention as DAF Direct becomes more and more popular, more DAF sponsors will be quick to join Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable and Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.   
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    Danielle Loughnane

    Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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