How to Show Donors the Impact of Their Dollars
We live in a time of nearly immediate gratification--we expect to see the results of our actions a second after they happen. When donors swipe their debit card, they want to know exactly how the money is being used, but beyond that, they want to know that their dollars are making a difference. What impact are they having?
For nonprofits, proving the direct effect of these dollars can be a difficult task that begins with understanding impact.
Paint a large and small picture
Donors and nonprofits should both understand the various ways dollars are used. To tell the story of where a donation goes, nonprofits should think about small ways that impact is felt and larger outcomes that come as the result of the small things. If you give money to an organization that buys seeds for a refugee garden, one impact might be plants. But the large-scale impact would be fresh vegetables for families, which then translates to even larger outcomes like better attendance in school, more stable families, etc.
Think about which is most impactful for the particular donor group you’re trying to reach, and speak to these.
Tie dollar amounts to outcomes
A great way to demonstrate impact to donors is to specify what exactly common dollar amounts lead to--$50 might pay for textbooks for a semester for a student somewhere, or $25 might feed a family for a certain amount of time. Outlining this for donors makes it easy to decide how much they might give and know that it is making a real difference. Maybe $5 funds a hotline for 20 minutes or covers the cost of a servicemember sending x number of letters home.
Alternatively, you might ask donors to sponsor certain items or amounts of time specifically.
Tell your story
If you need to reach a large number of donors (or for that matter, a small number), it is all about how you tell your story. You can make people see the impact they’re having at any donor level if you paint a picture for them. By using words and visuals, you can identify both small and large ways dollars help. Speak to donors on social media, in person, or via a creative storytelling campaign that highlights your stories and successes.
For some organizations, specificity helps. Develop a narrative around a particular person or family that you’re helping and tell that one story. When people can relate to a specific person, their impact is easier to see.