Drive Donations Year-Round With Nonprofit Impact Transparency

5 min
Image of Ipad with fundraising campaign and impact blocks
Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke

For publicly traded companies, it’s expected that they disclose important information to their shareholders like financial statements, details about operational procedures, leadership salaries, and much more. Similarly, nonprofits also disclose important information, like financials and impact, to their supporters via an annual report.

Download Now: The Nonprofit Annual Report Checklist

However, the modern donor expects these kinds of communications from your nonprofit more frequently than once per year. They want to see your year-round transparency defined in terms of impact, program results, how they’ve contributed, and overall performance of your organization.

If you want to build a strong sense of community and win your supporters’ trust, you need to engage them with a regular cadence of impact messaging. This type of information about your program success and nonprofit financials connects the dots for your audience about how their gifts are making a difference.

The more connected you can make them feel to your work, the more they’ll be able to buy in—literally—to help you achieve success. Below, we outline some steps you can take to kick start a regular cadence of impact messaging that builds your community’s sense of belonging.

Measuring Impact

To communicate your organization’s impact, you first have to have a system in place for how you collect data and measure progress over time. This starts with a clear understanding of the goals you’re trying to achieve.

It’s also helpful to spell out what your organization’s intended outputs are versus your outcomes. An output is a unit of production, such as time served or people helped, and an outcome is the short and long-term results created from these outputs.

For example, your organization may provide 5,000 gallons of clean water to your beneficiaries annually, but what’s the impact and result because of that?

  • Are people healthier?
  • Do they working longer hours because they’re healthier?
  • Does that change their income?
  • How does the local economy benefit?

Donors tend to support nonprofit impact in terms of outputs. However, knowledge of how your outputs affect larger outcomes and the long-term picture, is an important piece of your narrative for measuring impact at your organization.

Many dedicate resources entirely to collecting and communicating this data, even going so far as to hire a director of impact. Consider other ways your organization might dedicate resources to this transparency, like creating frequent donor impact reports, adding an impact section to your website, or updating your audience with newsletters. Not only can this help strengthen your program team’s connection to other departments, but it also communicates your level of dedication to your larger community.

Articulating Impact

Once you have a solid understanding of the results, outputs, and outcomes you want to track, you can begin thinking through the best ways to articulate them to your audience of supporters. As a general rule of thumb, the more you break your impact down for your audience the better they’ll understand what you’re working on what it takes to achieve your goals.

However, “breaking it down” isn’t simple for every organization though. Donors tend to gravitate toward tangible examples, but not every organization’s impact can be made immediately tangible or clear.  It might take a touch more creativity, but there are still ways to make examples for your community that help supporters understand the impact of their contribution.

For example, Convoy of Hope uses general phrases to title their impact blocks on their crowdfunding page. In the supplementary text, they outline how the contribution helps them move closer to a goal. While not the same as $X = X output, this language still paints a helpful picture in the mind of the donor:Campaign page with impact blocks for impact transparency

Impact Communications

To keep impact at the forefront for your community members, you need to prioritize it throughout your touch points and general copy. Establishing a sense of consistency in how you describe your progress is important.

When people feel they can trust and expect a certain level of communication from you, they’ll likely feel more connected to your work and more willing to continue their support. Consider the following five areas to build a well-rounded strategy:

Campaign Pages

To ensure you’re able to clearly define your nonprofit’s transparency and communicate impact, it helps to have the right fundraising software on your side. Classy, for example, allows you to add impact blocks to a crowdfunding page. From there, you can creatively showcase your nonprofit impact to your audience.

Below, see how The Honor Foundation uses the space to provide clear examples and incentivize different gift sizes:

Campaign page with impact blocks for impact transparency

Your Website

Where does your impact live on your website? Is the purpose of your organization and the results you achieve immediately visible to site visitors? Dedicate a page of your site specifically toward defining your impact.

Team Rubicon, for instance, has an entire section of their website dedicated to impact and stories. They even show visitors a map of their impact in the last 90 days, providing a visual representation of the organization’s presence and disaster assistance:

Donation Page

Even the language on Team Rubicon’s main donation page provides tangible examples and is centered around impact. They simply state:

  • $10/month provides: Incident Management Training for one volunteer
  • $25/month provides: Tools, Tactics & Techniques Training for one volunteer
  • $50/month deploys: A strike team for an operation
  • $100/month builds: A Forward Operation Base for an operation

Consider what simple language you can use on your donation page to help your donor understand the difference they can make. Your donation page can also call out the opportunity to become a monthly donor.

Recurring Donors Page

Your monthly giving experience is another opportunity to communicate the impact you make possible. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) outlines the perks of joining their monthly giving program, TWOLHA Blue. They provide each member with monthly updates and stories from the road. This loops the donor into the story of their beneficiaries, and connects them in a unique way to the cause:

TWLOHA's recurring giving program outlines how they promote impact transparency through monthly updates

Classy also has an annual summary feature which allows organizations to send recurring donors a summary statement at the end of the year. This statement shows a donor their total annual contribution via their recurring giving plan, and is a great way to thank donors and demonstrate their larger impact over time.

Email

While it’s important that impact-related copy live in the aforementioned places, it’s also crucial to drive awareness through your email communications. If you don’t create messaging specific to communicating impact, how can you weave results and progress into your existing correspondence? However you choose to present impact via email, set an expectation for your audience members around how often to look for updates.

The more consistent your communications and updates, the more often you’ll give the impression that you’re achieving results and making a difference. The right messaging and copy will create enthusiasm and a sense of real-time results that people can rally behind.

If you focus on your donor’s perception of your organization and of the power their gift, you will help them feel as though they directly contribute to the results in the field—because they do. A sense of belonging is how the best brands create cult followings, and how nonprofits create diehard supporters.

If you’d like to learn more about how to measure impact, create impact reports, or showcase your hard work to your audience join us for the Collaborative in Boston this June.


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