It’s no secret. Donor’s want to know exactly how a nonprofit plans to use their gift to advance the organization’s mission. That’s why the most effective communications strive to show the tangible benefits of every donation. In fact, a recent study found 80 percent of respondents felt it was important to know the real outcomes of their donations or volunteer work with a nonprofit.
It’s important to remember that your donors don’t have the same inside perspective as someone who is involved with your organization 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 each gift to connect with their base and raise more money.
According to the study referenced earlier, 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. It’s not enough to generally state the initiatives a donor’s gift is helping support. You need to communicate how each dollar they give furthers your organization’s mission in a tangible way.
1. Powerful Visuals
Have you ever seen an image that painted such a powerful picture that you found yourself thinking about it days later? Whether happy or sad, the picture’s message hit you on an emotional level and gave you a glimpse into another world.
These are the kinds of images that best communicate the tangible benefits of each gift. The next time members of your organization are out in the field putting those fundraising dollars to work, be sure to have someone take pictures and document it.
For example, let’s say your organization helps provide and serve dinner at a homeless shelter during certain holidays. Have someone take a picture as your guests line up and receive their meals. The next time you send an appeal, use this image as a postcard by layering some simple text reading, “Because of You,” or “Your Gift Made Someone’s Day.” Then use the back of the postcard for to communicate details and make an ask.
2. Dollars to Numbers
Let’s stick with the same example. We’ve shown the faces of your organization, the people you help, and evoked an emotional response from the audience. This is great, but donors still want to know exactly how their gift makes that scene possible.
On the backside of that postcard, consider starting with a strong header. It should tell donors exactly how each fundraising dollar makes a difference. Something like, “A Donation of $50 today provides meals for five people who need some help this holiday.” Make sure your example ties into your organization’s mission directly. Keep it simple so donors can easily understand the value they provide.
Sometimes the best strategy is the most obvious, which means it is often overlooked. Just come outright and tell your donors exactly what their money goes to. Demonstrate the impact of their gift by quantifying their donation in a dollars raised to people helped ratio. This way, they can pinpoint the exact number of people they helped and better realize the tangible benefits of their gift.
3. Outside Advocacy
Put yourself in a donor’s shoes for a moment. 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 homeless shelter 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 results and tangible benefits of every donation. Consider how a donor would feel after reading this:
“I look forward to coming to the shelter for this meal every year. Things have been especially rough this winter and it means so much to get out of the cold for a few hours and have a hot meal. I hope I am not in the same situation next year, but knowing that people care and want to help keeps my spirits high for my future.”
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. In other posts, we’ve talked about the importance of an effective “thank you.” You can try every strategy in the book, but there is simply no way to replicate the feeling a donor has when they hear those words as they look into a benefactor’s eyes and see how appreciative they are first hand.
Remember our example of five meals provided for $50? When a donor comes to volunteer, they can physically touch those five meals and hand them out personally. There is no better way to show the tangible benefits of each gift than to have a donor pitch in and put their monetary contribution into action. They may even decide to give more again next year after they realize what a small percentage those five meals are of everything served that day.
5. Use a Powerful CTA
Which would you be more 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. Most 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.