You never want to hear the words “prepare for impact” when you’re in a moving vehicle or airplane. But in our world of major gift fundraising, this is a warning I’m putting out. We’re hearing stories from MGOs in the field that their non-profit’s communication team is too busy with the holiday season to help with impact reports.

This means that many MGOs have been left without a proper way to report to donors how their gifts made a difference.

And this is a big problem because donors who have given in the fall are wondering what you are doing with their gifts, and if you can’t send them an update, it’s going to make it very tough to ask for another gift before the end of the year.

The mistake these MGOs made was that they didn’t properly prepare for donor impact reports when they were putting together their strategic plans for the year. They neglected to sit down with the program, finance, and communication teams to map out a plan for reporting to donors, even during the busy holiday season.

If this situation is something you are struggling with right now, here is a workaround – something you can put together on your own next week, as you wait for a more formal report.

  1. Quickly create a list of the donors you were going to solicit between now and the end of the year. Figure out what their gifts were directed toward and see if you can come up with 3 to 4 general areas to focus on.
  2. Go directly to the program directors and get updates on those programs. Take photos or videos if you can or obtain them from program. Gather statistics.
  3. Put together an email or text message that you send to those donors on your list to let them know how their gifts are being put into action right now. And let them know they will be receiving a larger impact report in 2022, but “you had to get them an update now…”

Now, for next year, to avoid this situation again, we strongly recommend you sit down with program, finance, and the communications team to brainstorm how you can collaborate on donor impact reports so that they are part of everyone’s plan and can be an effective part of your cultivation and stewardship of your donor throughout the year.

You don’t want to be caught unprepared again in December 2022, so make sure to schedule time to have these conversations as soon as possible to get in alignment with the rest of your team.