Fundraisers care about DAF regulations – but we also need to work within the current system

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For the editor:

In her opinion piece last week, “For most charity fundraisers, DAFs are a useful tool for attracting donations – Not an issue needing more regulation”, – Leslie Lenkowsky came to the wrong conclusion on how fundraisers like me think about donor-advised fund regulations.

He notes that the issue of DAF reform was not raised by any of the nearly 2,000 participants in a recent webinar on building relationships with DAF donors, sponsored by the Philanthropy Chronicle. From this evidence, he surmises that fundraising professionals do not expect or care about government regulation of these funds.

I believe that is incorrect. As a non-profit fundraiser and former foundation professional, I have been closely following the debate surrounding the Senate Accelerating Charitable Efforts Bill and hope that one day the DAFs will be subject to rules that require faster disbursement of funds and greater transparency. I am intrigued by the DAF regulations included in the Biden administration’s 2023 budget proposal and particularly support reforms to existing rules governing private foundations that allow these organizations to meet their annual payment obligation through a DAF distribution.

However, this is not the reality we currently live in. As nonprofits continue to strive to regain a solid financial footing during the ongoing pandemic, fundraisers must work within the systems in place to ensure that our organizations can continue their missions of significantly – in large part by ensuring that our colleagues remain employed.

All this to say that my personal silence during the webinar about ACE law — and government regulation more generally — came not from a lack of interest or hope for change, but from the need to focus on strategic fundraising in the current environment.

It is possible to work hard to make the current DAF structure useful to our organizations in the short term while striving to improve them in the long term.

Becca Freeman
Director of Foundation Relations
J Street

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