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Defining Your Nonprofit’s Impact for Donors

In order to show your supporters why they really matter, communicate with impact and transparency. Tying impact back to donor investments will help donors feel a stronger connection to your work and strengthen their trust in the organization. An impact series is a series of personalized communication and content shared with valued supporters to demonstrate how donor dollars translate into programmatic impact. An impact series and a newsletter are not one and the same. Where a newsletter lets your supporters know what you’ve been up to, an impact series specifically translates financial investment into organizational impact. Let your supporters know that they matter by painting them a picture – with the paint they’ve provided you. Take this opportunity to showcase your work and convey appreciation! There are a few ways that your organization can go about doing this, so let’s explore.

Measure Impact

Before you press send, work with your team to determine what your impact has looked like long-term. Communicate not only how your donors have helped in small ways through specific donations, but how their gifts have helped your organization grow over time. Try communicating how your contributors make results possible: “Over the past five years, we have noticed a steady decrease in water-borne diseases across communities we serve in Eastern Africa, thanks to contributors like you.” See how your impact series performs and adjust your strategy as needed. Try out different tactics and messaging until you find what works best for your organization.

Make it Personal

The purpose of an impact series is to tie a donor directly to the work they’ve helped make possible. These should be tailored to each supporter, depending on their engagement. “Your gift of $XX helped us to reach XX refugee rescues last quarter — we could not have done it without you.” For example, if a supporter gives $250/year, communicate exactly what that means in terms of your work. Be specific about how your donor’s hard-earned cash is going to good use.
  • Your gift of $250 provided 163 new books to The Community School, bringing educational resources to 372 students in need.
  • This year, your gift of $250 helped rescue 5 animals in need. Because of your generosity, Zoë (maincoon), Puppet (tabby), Mouse (dachshund), Jorge (yellow lab) and Dennis (tabby) have all been adopted and given a second chance.
  • Your gift of $250 brought cholera treatment kits to 73 people in Zimbabwe, where we have been noticing a steady decrease in the water-borne illness.

Provide Updates from the Field

Sending your supporters updates from the field allows them to truly see how their money is helping. Of course, this will look different depending on your nonprofit organization’s mission. Your local humane society might communicate stories of successful adoptions, for example, or show progress in the healing of an abused animal. Go a step further and show what these rescues mean over time – how have donors helped to improve the community you serve? By breaking down quantitative data into simple descriptive categories, your organization provides donors with a well-rounded scope of the lives their contributions affects. Selamta Family Project highlights their impact with seven categories: in-country, family-based, community-integrated, education, health & wellness, psychosocial support, and spiritual and life-skills development. Within each of these categories, outcomes are clearly defined in terms of impact. Health & Wellness Selamta Family Project

Include Event Summaries

Let your donors know how they’ve helped make a fundraising event or volunteer opportunity possible. What was the outcome of your event? How did your donors help to get you there? How have your donors helped impact organizational performance overall? Spelling out these answers will help your donors to feel connected and valued. Find a balance between human-interest stories, numerical data, and opportunities for readers to increase engagement. Paint a picture of impact, and let them know how they can learn more if interested.

Incorporate Important Internal Updates

An impact series is a great opportunity to communicate exclusive information. This grants a special sneak peek into your organization. A reminder that how the sausage gets made is what sets you apart from the competition. What’s in the pipeline? Let ‘em know what’s up.

Upgrade Your Strategy

Take these pro-tips and apply them to your broader communications strategy. Showcase your impact on your website with updates in real time. For example, Direct Relief International translates their donor dollars into pounds of medicine and supplies, and doses of medicine offered to those in need. These two metrics highlight their work and allow supporters to track progress and growth over time.

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