5 Ways to Show the Impact of Every Donation
by Mike Montalto
September 10, 2020

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 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 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 five strategies can help your donors see the difference they make:

Use pictures that evoke emotion and show the difference your work makes

1. Powerful Visuals

Pictures 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 evoke 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.

2. Compare Dollars to Impact

Using impact per dollar measurements in ask strings isn’t a new concept for nonprofits. But, many organizations can make that impact more real to donors by tying the comparison into their 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 comparison related directly to your mission and the stories you tell than something purely transactional.

Let your audience hear directly from the people your work supports

3. Outside Advocacy

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.”

4. Volunteer Opportunities

There’s no better way to show your donors exactly how their gifts are used than by inviting them to come and put their fundraising dollars to work. 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.

Volunteer opportunities can be tricky as the coronavirus lingers. Some supporters may not feel comfortable out in the field. So, try to get creative and think of ways they can help you from their homes.

And you should make sure you have personal protective equipment on hand for any supporters who want to volunteer in person. And be prepared to go above and beyond when you thank them for their help.

Which would you be more likely to click

5. 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 and associated communications 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.

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.

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