This is just amazing. Amazing. I have never seen anything like it, and I wanted to pass it on to you as an example of what you can do in general, and in support of major gifts, to let your donors know how their gifts are working for good.
Miriam’s Kitchen, a Washington DC-based organization dedicated to ending chronic homelessness, provides their donors (and the public at large) with a quarterly snapshot of the work their staff is doing to end chronic homelessness. A detailed program plan is created each year with specific goals in the major areas of the organization.
Then they produce a report (here’s their most recent) that covers four areas:
- Impact – they label this section “Our Proudest Moments.” Is that cool or what?!?
- How they are doing against goals. And in several areas they actually tell you “we are feeling uncertain about reaching our goals.” Whew! This is refreshing.
- Their resource needs – a soft ask.
- And finally, their planned work to accelerate success.
Now all of that is really, really cool. But then they go on to produce a report card that you can view by clicking here. The report card tells the donors if they are above plan (an “A”), on plan (a “B”), or below plan (a “C”). Notice that being on plan only gets a “B”. I love that! And there are tons of specific details in all the areas of critical performance.
This is, by far, one of the best systems for reporting back to stakeholders that I have seen in my career. It is precise, open, honest, to the point, and vulnerable.
I share this with you so that you can see a specific example of the kind of impact reporting that is needed in major gifts. Now don’t get discouraged if what you have is nowhere near this. Just take this example and share it with others; you can get more detail at www.miriamskitchen.org. And if others don’t want to jump on board, work at producing your own report for your own donors. Dig around with program staff to get the details.
While the older generation of donors just trusted their non-profit to do the right thing with their money, the current and future generations want proof of performance. Sooner or later you will face resistance to poor impact reporting. So please get in front of this trend and start sharing the details, good and bad.
And on the subject of sharing the bad – everyone knows that life (business and personal) is a mixture of success and failure, good and bad. So this tendency in non-profits not to share what has gone off the rails actually causes problems. Just tell it. Tell it all. It will be good in the long run.