“How are you telling your donors they are making a difference with their giving? No, really. How are you letting them know they are making an impact on the world?”
Richard and I find ourselves asking this question over and over again to non-profit leaders, especially those who work in major gifts. And, quite frankly, the answers are pretty disappointing. We usually hear something like, “Well, we send out three newsletters a year and I do an annual report on the project’s progress…”
Ugh. Boring. Obviously no creativity, time or money has been invested if we get an answer like that. And it angers me. It angers me because this is your opportunity to shine in the donor’s heart and mind and you are absolutely blowing it. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Look, if you want donors to continue to give, and give more, then you have to absolutely blow their socks off when you tell them how their gift has made an impact.
Hear me on this. Donors who give substantial investments in non-profits will give again IF they know they are making a difference. And the only way they are going to know if they are is if YOU tell them. Conversely, donors will STOP giving if they don’t hear back from you.
Whenever I say this at a conference or seminar I get all kinds of nodding heads. “Yes, yes, reporting back is the right thing to do.” Yet when I ask those same people what type of investment of time, energy and resources they are putting toward doing that reporting back, the answers are pathetic.
And it’s across the board. It’s not just you or your organization. It’s everywhere. I think non-profit leaders are reluctant to invest in “reporting back” strategies because they don’t see the immediate return on their investment. That is so short-sighted.
I understand that budgets are tight, but investing in properly cultivating and stewarding your donors by reporting on the impact they are making is really the only way you are going to expand your revenue at an acceptable return on investment.
I was just reading a blog post in Queer Ideas from Mark Phillips. A new study done by New Philanthropy Capital was conducted to see if donors really care whether the non-profits they give to show the impact of giving or not. Not surprisingly, younger donors who gave small amounts really don’t need to see impact. However, when you dig into the study, older donors who give large amounts care about seeing impact at a much, much higher rate. And, it affects their subsequent giving to that organization.
Those are your major donors talking.
You have such an incredible opportunity with your major donors if you invest in reporting back to them. While they are making an impact on your mission, the impact you can make in a donor’s life is immeasurable.
Think about this for just a minute. If you believe that your donor’s gift is making a difference to help change the world, then wouldn’t you invest in something that you know will make a difference in the life of your donor? And what if you knew for certain that by making that investment you would not only help change the life of that donor, but that donor would continue to invest back into your organization? You would make that investment, wouldn’t you?
Yes, you would. So make the investment! Here are five ways you can do an awesome job of reporting back to your donors and showing them how they have made a difference.
Don’t just give lip service to this. It will take discipline and commitment from you and your entire development team to make this a priority. You simply cannot afford NOT to invest in it.
Great post Jeff. Thanks for including the differences between young and older donors. Ultimately, it boils down to showing your donors a return on investment. I’ve had the hardest time convincing NPO & fundraising leaders that this is necessary. Those who get it, though, are reaping huge rewards!