Donor Statements: Telling the Story of Your Data | npENGAGE

Telling Your Impact Story with Donor Statements

By on Jul 16, 2019

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Information and technology are at the center of everything we do. This is something highlighted often here on npENGAGE as we think about new ways the landscape of fundraising is changing due to the world becoming smaller and more transparent.

Private foundations, public charities and other social good organizations have an IRS Form 990 online, open to the public eye at any time. Data tells a story, and it’s important that your organization ensures that the correct narrative is being told about your data. In the social good world, storytelling is vital for success, and arguably one of the most important stories to tell is the journey of your donor’s funds.

Almost every day, we log into our personal online bank accounts to manage money and pay bills. We can clearly see and know where the money is coming from, and where it is going, and we are starting to expect more of the same from the companies, governments, and organizations we interact with. This is where the idea of donor statements comes in. Donor statements can help you inform donors about the breadth of impact their donations have made, leading them to feel good about their choice to donate to your organization, and trust that any possible future gift will be handled the same.

In a recent episode of The sgENGAGE Podcast, Episode 101: Building Trust and Accountability with Donor Statements, industry expert Pamela Gignac, Vice President of Development at JMG Solutions, shared strategies and best practices for using donor statements to position your organization for your donors who are expecting more.

Here are some of the tips that Pamela shared to get started with donors statements:

  • Donor statements should be considered an integrated part of your greater storytelling strategy. Something to be included to help personalize the impact of your donors, but not the focus of the story itself.
  • Begin with a small group of donors. Start off in a way that you can manage the scale and messaging instead of trying to do it across your entire supporter base. You want to make sure that it’s working and adapt it to your organization and what your mission is, and the goals you’re trying to achieve. You want to tailor it to what your donors have been used to with you.
  • You don’t have to spill your guts right away. Tell your donors a meaningful, personalized story to them but avoid over-informing and complicating the message.
  • Be creative in your messaging. Congratulate and celebrate your donors’ gifts while incentivizing them to give more. An example given is to show them how many people gave a similar amount as they did and what the impact was from that. Challenge them to take it a step further through showing the good they have done and what more they could accomplish.
  • Donor statements will vary from organization to organization. Having your finance and development teams work together to provide what information is ok to share and how to share it is vital to the success. Testing variations on this messaging over a small group over time is a great way to begin forming a template to scale to your whole donor base.

 

Listen to the full episode to learn even more about how to add value to your donors with donor statements: Episode 101: Building Trust and Accountability with Donor Statements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe has been with Blackbaud for over three years and supports the brand team as an Associate Marketing Communication Specialist. He is involved with managing content for the npENGAGE website and the sgENGAGE podcast and is thrilled to be in a position to share leading industry trends and ideas within the philanthropic sector. With a passion for animal welfare and the arts, he is a self-proclaimed patron of live music based in New York City who prior to Blackbaud spent more time working with dogs than humans.

Comments (8)

  • KaLeigh says:

    “…but avoid over-informing and complicating the message.”

    I think this is an incredibly important point. Yes, your donors care about your mission, but they may not want to know about your exact 8 hours or all of the stats.

  • Sage says:

    I agree that simplicity is the key. Diving super deep into statistics complicates the message. It can drive the donor further from the mission.

  • DeLaine says:

    This supports what I have been sharing in my organization and working to implement; feedback to our donors on a more personal level will help strengthen the relationship and inspire more from them seeing the direct impact they are making. Thank you for the share on this.

  • Tiffany says:

    “Testing variations on this messaging over a small group over time is a great way to begin forming a template to scale to your whole donor base.” Thank you for including this statement. At times I find that we have what we feel is a good idea and we try to roll it out to our entire donor base. A lot easier to start small and figure out a process that will work and that’s sustainable.

  • Tineke Hage says:

    I agree, we have begun to use donor statements in our acknowledge letters and other communication. It has begun to make an impact as our donors can see how their money is impacting those we serve. It makes a bigger impression than just stating the numbers on paper does.

  • Andy Schroeder says:

    I appreciate the insight. This is a great message at a great time as we prepare for fall appeals.

  • Cathy says:

    “Donor statements can help you inform donors about the breadth of impact their donations have made, leading them to feel good about their choice to donate to your organization, and trust that any possible future gift will be handled the same.” Thank you for these good thoughts.

  • Cammi L Derr says:

    The shorter the better since people’s attention spans are so short now, but maintaining the quality and value of the message is important to get the message out. I don’t write the impact statements here, but I am sure it’s a difficult task to maintain the balance.

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