How to show donors the impact of every donation.
by Mike Montalto
August 5, 2021

It’s no secret. Donors want to know the real impact of every donation they make. We’re talking about specific, tangible ways to help donors understand how they’ve impacted a cause that’s important to them.

In fact, 80 percent of respondents feel it is important to know the real outcomes of their donations or volunteer work with a nonprofit, according to an Accenture study.

Remember your donors don’t have the same inside perspective as someone who is involved with your work on a daily basis. As fundraisers, we see the effect donations have on our work every day.

The most successful fundraisers know they need to show donors the impact of every donation to connect with their base and raise more money.

According to the same study, 60 percent of donors said that they would donate up to 10 percent more if nonprofits better communicated how their fundraising dollars further the mission!

The following strategies can help your donors see the difference they make:

Use powerful images that show donors how their fundraising dollars are helping advance your mission.

Use a picture worth 1,000 words.

Images are a great way to tell your story. You can evoke your audience’s emotions with images that show how fundraising dollars are making a difference or why donations are so critical for the people you serve.

For example, let’s say your organization helps provide and serve dinner at a food pantry. You can use photos of smiling people lining up to receive their meals to show donors the impact of every donation.

Or use images that produce a negative response to show your donors why their support is so important! A picture of someone digging through the trash, looking for something to eat for their onlooking child shows your donors there is a lot of work to do.

So, have someone take pictures and document the impact of every donation the next time you’re out in the field putting those fundraising dollars to work. Try to build up a diverse library of images to use in different communications.

READ MORE: The 4 principles of visual storytelling. 

Be sure to tie impact-per-dollar comparisons to your mission.

Compare dollars to impact.

Using impact per dollar measurements in ask strings isn’t a new concept for nonprofits. But, you can make that impact feel more real to donors by tying the comparison into your stories.

So, you should try to go beyond “A gift of $50 pays for 5 meals” if you’re using the food shelter example from earlier.

Think about what those five meals are really doing in relation to your mission. Something like “Your gift of $50 provides dinner every night this week for Jane and her child.” is much more powerful!

After all, in this example, the nonprofit’s mission isn’t to give out food. It’s to make sure those in need don’t go hungry!

You can better show the impact of every donation when your dollars to impact comparisons relate directly to your mission and the stories you tell, rather than something purely transactional.

FREE eBOOK: Ask strings and the science of securing support. 

Let someone else tell the story.

Put yourself in a donor’s shoes.

They receive communications from you throughout the year. Many of these will feature the voice of someone within your organization. On your next appeal, try varying your message by having it come from someone who benefits from your work directly.

Let’s go back to our food pantry example again.

While you’re out working and serving those meals, ask your benefactors if they would be interested in answering a few questions or providing a quote about your organization.

Their responses are powerful testimonials that you can use to show donors the impact of every donation. Consider how a donor would feel after reading this:

“Things have been especially rough this year and it’s amazing to know there are people out there making sure my children and I know where we can find our next meal when there’s not enough money for food.”

READ MORE: Why your nonprofit needs to A/B test your communications.

Invite them to put their dollars to work.

There’s no better way to show your donors exactly how their gifts are used than by inviting them to your next volunteer opportunity.

No matter how vivid your image, or how powerful a testimonial is, nothing can compare to a first-hand experience.

This gives donors the chance to interact with the people they have been generously supporting. They can help distribute those meals themselves and see the difference they make.

READ MORE: Six strategies for securing a second gift. 

Which would you be more likely to click.

Use a powerful CTA.

Which of the above would you be most likely to click?

Only one of these choices reminds a donor what their gift actually does to help. Remember you’re likely not the only organization sending appeals to any given donor.

But many other organizations forget this simple strategy and opt for a simple “Give” or “Donate” button as their call-to-action.

Stand out from the crowd while giving a subtle reminder about what a donor’s gift will do by putting a little more thought into your calls-to-action!

READ MORE: Why your nonprofit’s call-to-action doesn’t work. 

Make it real.

The most important thing when demonstrating the tangible benefit of each donor’s gift is to remember to disconnect and stop thinking like someone inside of your nonprofit. It can be hard, but it is critical to think in a donor’s shoes!

You are involved with your organization’s work every day. You see exactly how each fundraising dollar is used to further your mission.

Your donors don’t have this perspective, unless you provide it for them! Using the strategies above will bring your donors closer to your work, so they can really understand how their gift makes a difference every time they contribute.

Like what you see? Stay in touch!