8 Tips for Communicating Impact to Your Donors

Many of us scurried to make our charitable contributions in the final days of 2017. Who did you decide to give to… and what do communications have to do with it? Based on my own giving, I would say a lot.

The organizations I support are the ones that communicate with me about the impact we’re making together:

  • They provide me with information about their accomplishments through print and digital newsletters;
  • They deliver valuable content on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram;
  • They alert me when my voice is needed to move a piece of legislation or end a nefarious corporate practice;
  • And they tell me how my dollars are making a difference.

One local charity I used to support very generously sent me their year-end fundraising letter. I realized that I had not received ANY communication from them all year, except a special giving day email. I don’t know what they’ve been up to. Are they growing? Are they serving more people? What kind of an impact have they had on our community? No idea.

So, you guessed it—that letter went straight into the recycling bin.

Another charity I love always sends me a special Year in Review report. It’s a simple, 4- page, newsletter-style piece that discusses projects in countries around the world. It includes wonderful photos showing their important work. When I read that report and look at the faces of the people I have helped, I’m inspired to do more—and the credit card or checkbook comes out!

So as 2018 begins, here are 8 quick ideas that can help you do a better job of reporting back to your donors on the impact of their giving this year:

  1. Add a success story buckslip to your acknowledgment packages.
  2. Send an email with a link to a newspaper article that mentions your organization, saying, “Just thought you would like to see this news.”
  3. Create a Year in Review report for 2017 (it’s not too late!) to mail out to your very best donors and email to the full file.
  4. When you have a big accomplishment to tout, place thank you calls to your top donors letting them know, “you made this happen.” If you can’t afford to outsource this, consider a staff thank-a-thon where each staff person is given five donors to call.
  5. Send a highly personalized letter from the CEO, providing a warm, insider update to your very best donors.
  6. Add a “Your Dollars at Work” section to your existing newsletters to show donors what you are doing with their money.
  7. Video is hot. Why not showcase your talented staff (doctors, teachers, social workers, people in the field…) through short Q&A video interviews that you can share on social media? They don’t have to be polished—just authentic. Make sure the person being interviewed gives a “thank you” shout out to donors.
  8. Interview donors and write up their stories for use on your website and in publications. Allow them to explain in their own words why supporting your organization matters to them.

Happy New Year to all our readers and may your donor communications prosper and be plentiful in 2018!

Photo credit: © Paul Downey Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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