Sharing Your Story: How to Engage Donors with the Philanthropic Impact of Their Gift | npENGAGE

Sharing Your Story: How to Engage Donors with the Philanthropic Impact of Their Gift

By on Jul 26, 2016


Philanthropic Impact

We have officially crossed the mid-way point of the calendar year! Even though it might be a little far off, now is a great time to start strategizing your year-end fundraising plans. This might include direct mail letters, email appeals, Giving Tuesday, telemarketing and more.

But how can you ensure that donors are primed to give during the holiday season? It’s simple—regularly communicate the impact that your donors have already created.

It might seem too easy, but research shows that donors want to know 1) how their gift was used and 2) what impact it had. Communicating this information to your donors boosts their confidence in your organization. This is key for repeat donations.

Stories provide great content pieces for your organization to report backs to donors.

Stories perfectly illustrate impact in action. They illustrate how donors were able to help someone or something, which makes it very easy for them to tangibly understand their impact.

3 storytelling techniques to effectively communicate donor impact:

Share impact through pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… so get creative! If possible, take some pictures of your organization’s impact in action. Then, compile those pictures into a Facebook album with captions that help tell the story. To let donors know about this album, send out an email or two that point them to it.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, check out UNICEF USA’s albums on Facebook.

Make a short video

There is a common misconception that videos have to have high production value to be really effective. In reality, sometimes the best videos are a little more on the raw side. With the rise of more video based social media channels like Snap Chat and Facebook Live, people are embracing the authentic and unscripted moments of life even more. Pull out your smart phone and film just 1 minute. You could get your Executive Director to share a report back, or a program staff member could share an impactful story. You could even ask a volunteer to participate. Then, upload and share away!

Create a special gratitude or impact report

A gratitude or impact report is a special way to report back to donors the opportunities made possible by their gifts. It’s slightly different from your typical newsletter in that it might focus on one program or fundraising campaign that had a good response rate. The report may feature a few key statistics, but mostly it will tell impact stories. September would be a great time to issue a special report in order to keep impact top of mind for donors leading into year-end fundraising.

Looking for some inspiration? Check out this gratitude report from Interval House.

Which of these ideas will you try for your donors? Leave a comment below and share your ideas.


Vanessa Chase Lockshin founded The Storytelling Non-Profit in 2012 to help nonprofit organizations articulate their impact to donors in a new way. Using narrative techniques to generate greater personal interest and accountability, Vanessa helps nonprofits improve their fundraising success. Vanessa’s fundraising career started at The University of British Columbia, her alma mater. Currently, Vanessa is president of The Storytelling Nonprofit, co-founder of Stewardship School, and board chair of Women Against Violence Against Women.

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