impact stories blog

8 Must-Have Components of a Winning Case Statement

Case statements come in many sizes and shapes—but they all aim to convince your donors to invest in the mission of your organization.  To make sure you have a winning case statement, include these 8 elements:

1. Use a Theme — This is how you grab the reader and get them to turn the page. Connects to donor (more…)

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Take My Money: Fuzzy Flyers Edition

Take My Money is a new occasional series featuring creative inspiration straight from Impact’s mailbox.

If I were a character in “Harry Potter,” I would totally have a pet bat. I mean, owls are way too mainstream, amirite?

So I appear to be the target audience for this beautiful package from The Nature Conservancy, featuring a full color photo of a bat saying “Nobody Loves Me.”

“AWWW, look at her cute widdle tongue! I will love you, bat!”

You can’t go wrong with a furry face, even one that’s a little unusual. Between the photo and the teaser, this envelope begs to be opened. And once you get inside, The Nature Conservancy effectively makes the case for giving to prevent habitat loss and support critical wildlife research. The copy includes includes geographic personalization, and makes the reader feel special for caring about these misunderstood animals.

Take my money! And save the bats!

Did you work on this package? Let us know so we can give you a virtual round of applause!


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Take My Money: Valentine’s Day Edition

Take My Money is a new occasional series featuring creative inspiration straight from Impact’s mailbox.

It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your donors how much you love them. And this card my husband and I just received from our college shows how to do it right.

This pretty picture is of the Crim Dell bridge, one of the most beautiful spots at the College of William & Mary. Campus lore holds that if a couple crosses the bridge together, and kisses at the top, they’ll be together forever. (We won’t go into how to reverse the spell if the relationship takes a turn for the worse…)

It’s the perfect image to grace the Valentine they sent to alumni couples. It feels personal, bringing up warm feelings of our college days together. A place where we were young and in love.

Now please excuse me while I go hum our alma mater for the rest of the afternoon.


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How Much Do You Know About Your Donors of Color?

While interviewing a foundation leader recently, I learned about a thought-provoking report by the Vaid Group: The Apparitional Donor: Understanding and Engaging High Net Worth Donors of Color.

It’s eye-opening to read about how philanthropy continues to overlook donors from diverse communities, paying little attention to these donors’ interests and preferred ways of making change with their dollars:

The limited available research on HNW [high net worth] donors of color and the lack of comprehensive data on giving by affluent, HNW, and UHNW people of color leaves many questions unanswered and many details about donor priorities, concerns, and motivations unknown . . .  HNW donors of color are real and complex individuals with unique personal stories who bring a generous personal engagement with their families, communities, and cultures. The philanthropic practices of communities of color are distinctly different from one another and are, in highly significant ways, unlike the philanthropy of white HNW donors.

Our sector needs to do a better job of listening to donors of color, that much is clear. And, we need to build a more diverse community within the fundraising profession itself.

In the meantime, we should all do some soul searching about how we as individuals, organizations, and companies that support nonprofits can do better. Here’s some more food for thought:

Government Shutdown: Philanthropy Responds

The facts are sobering. More than 800,000 federal workers not getting paid. Washington-DC area restaurants report business down 20 to 60%. A devastating halt to health and education programs provided based on historic agreements between Native tribes and the government. The Department of Agriculture says funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) will run out by March 1. The ripple effects are not yet fully known.

But we do know this. Philanthropy and the nonprofit community are standing in the gap, as they always do. Here are just a few amazing examples:

José Andrés is at it again. With his World Central Kitchen charity and #ChefsforFeds, this restauranteur has opened a kitchen and café to feed furloughed workers in the DC area. Open from 11 am to 6 pm daily, they provide hot meals and food to go. And yes, they have been flooded with volunteers. Learn more here.

United Way of the National Capital Area in Washington D.C. established a $50,000 Emergency Assistance Fund to area nonprofits to meet people’s basic needs. Donate here.

DC Diaper Bank is helping furloughed families with necessities including diapers and period products during the shutdown. Learn how you can help here.

And when the National Park Foundation put out a call to help the parks recover after reopening, thousands of their members responded by donating and offering to volunteer once the parks reopen. Get involved here.

These are just a few examples and I could list many more. Once again, philanthropy and the army of good people who work in and support our charitable organizations are responding with heart and compassion. Leaving politics aside for now, let’s all do what we can to help.

At Impact, we’re doing our part by donating to the above charities. What will you do?

Communications is NOT Overhead

If you work for a social impact organization, chances are your work involves moving people to action, enacting public policy, providing services, conducting research, changing public opinion, or some combination of these and other functions.

What good does it do our society if the powerful work you do is known to only a small cross section of the population? Or if the report you wrote about hunger or homelessness or healthcare access is read only by your Board of Directors?

If there is one thing the social impact sector must do more of it’s this: Tell your stories to a broader audience! That belief is what inspired me to start Impact Communications 20 years ago and I still believe it as wholeheartedly today.

As we wind down our 20th anniversary year, I want to challenge you to ask yourself these questions about your organization’s commitment to storytelling:

  1. Do you see your communications staff and fundraising communications staff as overhead? They are not. They play a pivotal role in advancing your mission. Let’s tell our funders and our donors that this is an investment we MUST have with EVERY project.
  2. How many of your foundation’s funders give you money not just to develop a program or conduct research, but ALSO to tell the world about it? Start including that expense in your proposals.
  3. Does your programmatic staff find it burdensome to talk with fundraising and communications staff; to share stories and images from the field and invest time in content development? If so, you have to change this from the top and ensure that storytelling is valued by everyone. Not just because it pays their salary, but because it’s part of the social change.
  4. Do your Board members roll their eyes every time you mention fundraising or outreach? It’s time to train your Board members in communications and fundraising storytelling as an essential part of their role as leaders of the organization.

The truth is, fundraising and communications teams are essential to the advancement of your mission . . . because stories move people to action and action moves your mission forward.

For more inspiration on this topic, check out this article from Stanford Social Innovation Review.

– Kathy Swayze

#WednesdayWisdom: We’re All Storytellers

“Look, we’re all storytellers. There’s no one alive who isn’t a storyteller, even if they don’t think they are. Every day is a story.” -Steven Spielberg


We’re inspired by Spielberg’s work with the USC Shoah Foundation to combat hate by sharing the stories of survivors of genocide. Read more about how this “living testimony” is changing hearts and minds. 

Photo credit: Huni Gaming Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.


Fundraiser’s Corner: The Story of #GivingTuesday in 40 Subject Lines

#GivingTuesday was bigger than ever this year – raising $380 million from 3.6 million donors.  What were the Trends this year? #GivingTuesday started earlier and lasted longer, with many organizations sending emails a week or more in advance and a few days after the actual giving day.  #GivingTuesday went social, spurred by a $7 million Facebook match. #GivingTuesday was all about matching gifts with many organizations offering double and triple matches for all gifts made that day. We’re inspired by this global giving day that celebrates our capacity to care for and empower one another.

Here’s a view of this year’s #GivingTuesday through a sample of 40 subject lines I saw in my own inbox:


11/20 – 11/22

A mix of asks and Thanksgiving thank you messages

1.     Foster healing arts this Giving Tuesday

2.     Giving Tuesday is Just One Week Away

3.     Celebrating You

4.     With Gratitude

5.     We are thankful for our friends

6.     Happy Thanksgiving (8 versions of this)

7.     What are you thankful for?

11/23 Black Friday

8.     We’ll Double Your Black Friday Gift

9.     Things that Matter

11/24 and 11/25

Very little activity on the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving

11/26 #GivingTuesday Eve

10.  Early Bird Challenge Grant for You

11.  Cyber Monday – make a gift

12.  Match Your Gift for #GivingTuesday

13.  Why Wait ‘til #GivingTuesday

14.  Giving …Monday?

15.  For #GivingTuesday…Support X Org

16.  #GivingTuesday Eve

17.  Tomorrow is #GIvingTuesday

18.  #StandWithUs

11/27 #GivingTuesday

19.  Your #GivingTuesday Match Status

20.  Video message from our clients

21.  Happy #GivingTuesday

22.  A #GivingTuesday gift for you

23.  Today is the Day

24.  #GivingTuesday

25.  What #GIvingTuesday is Really About

26.  Today is the day to show your love

27.  #Thank you Tuesday

28.  24-hour goal

29.  Your gift is doubled now

30.  #GivingTuesday Triple Match

31.  There’s Still Time to Act  (4 variations of this)

32.  Trying to Reach You

33.  Gifts Doubled Until Midnight

11/28 and 11/29  The days after 

Mostly thank you, reporting back messages but some additional asks.

34.  The spirit of giving carries on

Opening line: It might be Wednesday but the spirit of #GivingTuesday carries on

35.  My personal thank you

36.  You made #GivtingTuesday great

37.  We’re grateful

38.  It’s not too late

39.  Giving Tuesday Success

40.  Wow! You made #GivingTuesday great

— Kathy Swayze

Impact Celebrates #GivingTuesday

The tradition at Impact continues – each member of our staff selected a nonprofit to a receive a contribution from the company on Giving Tuesday. Take a look at the organizations we are celebrating this year.

Kathy: “My Giving Tuesday charity is the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs…. I am choosing to support them because, right here in my city, they are working to dismantle the systems that sustain racial inequity while repairing the damage caused by past generations of discrimination.”

Meg: “For #GivingTuesday this year, I am focusing on joy. Through City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties, my family and I gained two new pets this year. We also played a small part in bringing happiness to other families by fostering animals in need of a good home. Well, actually, the whole Impact team helped with fostering on our self-declared “Take Your Kittens to Work Days!” City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties rescues animals from rural, high-kill shelters and pairs them with caring families in the Washington, DC area.”

Julie: “We live in a nation where Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. It’s a horrifying statistic—and it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m making my #GivingTuesday contribution to the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. They’re working to change policy, healthcare, and culture so that Black mothers can thrive—before, during, and after pregnancy.”

Jen: “My #GivingTuesday pick is an organization that galvanizes the creative arts to help promote social good. Based here in DC, Halcyon does the work of supporting artists in pursuing their curiosity and creativity AND having these artists work towards innovating solutions around affordable housing, access to nutrition, youth incarceration, and other crises affecting our country.”

Heather: “We can save the planet…one choice at a time. UpCycle Creative Reuse Center is creativity and conservation all wrapped into one! UpCycle inspires children, teachers and adults to collect cast-offs like bottle caps, bread ties, fabric scraps and more. Last year, UpCycle collected and kept more than 4,500 ft3 of art, learning and office materials out of the landfill! And then redistributed these items through their Community Resource Center open to all in Alexandria, Virginia.”

Courtney: “I am donating to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in support of the millions of Americans affected by mental health conditions. The stigma associated with mental illness causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control, prevents many from seeking help, and even claims lives. NAMI works to help the one in five people in the United States living with mental illness every year.”

Hannah: “Over the holiday weekend, my family unfortunately had to say goodbye to one of our beloved dogs, Lilly. In her honor, I’ve chosen to contribute to Wings of Love, Kuwait, a local dog rescue group in Baltimore. A former flight attendant founded this organization after witnessing horrific conditions faced by stray dogs around the world, but nothing compared to what she saw in Kuwait. The women of Wings of Love, Kuwait independently rescue these dogs, fly them to the United States, provide medical care and find them forever homes. Lilly was my furry companion for twelve years after being rescued by a local shelter and hope to provide the same for another dog and family.”


20 Years of Impact

Today marks the official day of Impact Communication’s 20th anniversary.  If you’re reading this, you’ve played a part in Impact’s journey. Thank you.

We were thrilled to celebrate earlier this month with those who have supported this company in countless ways. Thank you to everyone who could make it to the event – it was a wonderful night spent with great company and sharing fond memories to commemorate this magnificent occasion.

Impact began as a one-person shop, when President & Creative Director Kathy Swayze decided to pursue her passion. Over the years, we have been honored to work with over 300 organizations on the front lines of change. We feel incredibly fortunate to work with world-changing organizations and some of the most committed, intelligent, hard-working people in the world.

For the past 7,300 days, we have drawn inspiration from the amazing work of clients who seek to connect orphaned children with new homes . . . protect and rescue mistreated animals . . . defend our natural environment . . . sound the alarm for human rights violations . . . eradicate senior poverty. . . and much, much, more. We are incredibly fortunate to work with people like you who are dedicated to changing the lives of others.

Today, as we celebrate this anniversary, we have our eye on the next twenty years. And we’re thrilled to share with you the new look of Impact Communications – a fresh new logo for the chapters ahead.

Thank you to all who have supported us the past 20 years – we are eager to accomplish more and excited for what the future holds.