During this pandemic we’ve been talking about how best to communicate with donors when you’re no longer able to meet face to face. We’ve stressed that it’s not so important how often you do that, but rather how meaningful your contact is with the donor for your organization.

In other words, it’s really about moving the relationship deeper and forward with a donor, regardless of whether it’s by phone, email, text or video calls. Finding out how your donor wants to be communicated with is the key. From there, it’s up to you to be creative and inspiring so that the donor will engage with you.

Richard and I have been receiving many questions related to this, specifically on the subject of how, in the midst of a pandemic when we cannot visit donors face to face, do you report on the impact of a donor’s gift? We’re glad this question is coming up, because even in a pandemic, donors will still want to know how their gifts are making a difference. Actually, even more so.

The implications of you NOT reporting back promptly or sufficiently are dire. It’s the number one reason why donors stop giving to your organization. Reporting on impact is a great opportunity for you to serve your donor outrageously and stand out amongst your peers. Why? Because honestly, most organizations don’t report on impact well – or even at all.

I can’t stress this enough to you. If you report back on the impact made by your donors, you’ll win their hearts and their gifts over a long period of time. (Tweet it!) This is why we’re so befuddled at most organizations when they don’t make this a priority.

Okay, so with all of that said, here are some ideas for you on how to report on impact during a pandemic (and any other time):

  1. Build solid relationships with your program and finance team. — Yes, this is a strategy. If you can build good relationships with folks in these two areas, you’ll find it much easier to report on impact. Your job is to understand what your program and finance teams do, so you can better educate them on why impact reporting is so important to donors and how to do it effectively. Take your excellent people skills that you use with donors, and apply them to your colleagues. The folks in finance and program should be your best work friends.
  2. Know the communication preferences of your donors. — Which donors like email? Which donors like texting, or Zoom, or just a phone call? How do your donors consume information? Do they like written reports, PowerPoint, video, live reports individually or in small groups? This is important to know in order to deliver impact reports to them.
  3. Tailor any impact report to donor preference. — For example, you may be reporting on impact that 10 donors funded. That may mean reporting on that impact 4 different ways using the same information. Some may like written reports; others may like a live call from your CEO with four other donors on the Zoom.
  4. Be Creative. — Reporting on impact doesn’t have to be expensive.

    a.  Do a live Facetime call with a donor, and include a program person.

    b.  Create video using your phone, and send it in a text.

    c.  Create a PowerPoint presentation to a group of donors funding a project, and present it in real time with your CEO.

    d.  Have a beneficiary of your programs speak directly to a donor via recorded video, about how the program changed their life.

    e.  When you find out something interesting about a program or project that your donor has funded, make a phone call and give that donor a quick update – and thank them for helping make it happen.

    f.  In your organization’s newsletter, highlight a program area for your donors who help fund that program, and attach a handwritten sticky note letting them know they made a difference.

This is how you can report on impact, whether during a pandemic or not. Again, most non-profits are great at getting gifts, but they quickly move on, forgetting about the donor. Don’t do that. Stay with that donor, and they’ll stay with you.