Within the nonprofit sector recently, there has been a strong emphasis on the importance of sharing the impact your organization has – for your clients, as well as for your donors and the community in general. It is not enough just to be a strong resource and do good work, if in fact no one knows about it! This also becomes critical in sharing the results of your work so that donors especially can see the impact that their support has had on your organization – after all, what goes around, comes around. And if in fact you are looking to grow your donor base, then getting this story out to the community in general is more important than you might think.
There are many ways of doing this, from infographics to client stories and videos. These can be then included within your website, annual reports, newsletters, appeals, events, media ads, social media, etc. – and ideally, once you create the content, you will look to include several of these formats so that you can truly reach as wide an audience as possible. Perhaps the most critical part of this though, is in collecting the data, the results and the stories! Not all organizations do as good a job at this as they could be, and yet the basis of receiving grants and support from outside sources often dictate the need. The key then is to dig into all of the numbers and find out what are the ones that matter the most and then to present them in a way that is of interest to the audience you are sharing them with.
We have recently had the opportunity to work on several nonprofit projects that have been great examples of communicating the work of the organizations. For example, Community Health – a clinic that serves the uninsured and underserved community located in Chicago, recently completed an appeal that was truly unique in that not only did it share a story of a client, but it asked the client to tell what she would say to the supporters of Community Health. The images and quotes did a great job in gaining your interest, and the way in which the story was presented made it very personal to the reader.
Another few projects that we did recently were annual reports. While some might suggest to you that these printed publications are going away, I would invite you to see how well these examples do at engaging the reader to not just look at the piece, but to actually want to read them! The YWCA of Evanston, MetroSquash in Chicago, and the Little City Foundation in Palatine each prepared very graphic reports on their work and invited the reader to learn more about the work they are doing. The real value in these publications is not just giving you the financial numbers, but to share stories, impact numbers and more. I would also suggest that it is a good thing for you to share donor stories – why they first became involved, how they choose to give and why they will continue to give.
Another great way to do this is to prepare random thank you notes to send out to donors with some of the key impact numbers or results from your work, along with a personal note from one of the people who you serve. These are great ways to motivate donors in advance of a planned appeal mailing.
Now more than ever, the competition amongst nonprofits for charitable dollars is increasing, and the need to attract new donors is a real challenge. Perspective donors are doing more and more research on organizations, looking to online sources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar. These do a great job at providing the numbers and reports to back them up. They do not though, give you the way to reach out and tell your story, give the impact, engage your audience and truly get them excited about all you do. This part you need to do yourself!
How is it that you are sharing your impact? Would you like to talk more about what you can do?