Are You Sure You’re Reporting Impact to Your Donors?

Are you telling your donors what you actually do with their donations? Do you report on impact? Do you tell them what happened? Many of you are saying, “Of course, I do that. I send a gift acknowledgement letter as soon as they send a donation. I have to. It’s the law. Of course we do that!” But…are you? We think we do it. We send that letter and that letter says what we’re going to do with the dollars, not what we did with them. It probably takes us a few months to put those dollars into action, actually create some impact, but we don’t really tell the donor that. We never report on that impact.

So, perhaps you put that information in a newsletter or an email blast. Do you know the open rate on your email blast? It’s probably 20%, maybe 30% if you’re really lucky. Those’re the only people who are getting that information! And are they actually reading the full article? Probably not. So they’re never really hearing what you actually did with their support. They have to guess. They have to assume that we did what we’re supposed to do.

Don’t make them assume. Tell them! One of my favorite tools for this is the impact letter. This is an additional piece of correspondence, without an ask, that comes out maybe three to six months after their donation.

It simply says: Dear donor, thanks so much for your loyal support. It’s been about six months since you so generously gave to this cause. We just wanted to let you know what we did with those funds. We have done …. And you list a couple of key points, key initiatives, key items of impact that have happened because of that donor.

This is where you give them credit. Lots of you language – you, your. Not me, we’s, or ours. Make the donor the hero of that impact letter. They did this. Without them, none of that would’ve happened. Give them credit. Once they get that, they’re simply going to say, “Wow, this charity actually told me what they did with my funds. I like them. They’re trustworthy. I bet I could give more support to them, and they’d put it to good use as well.” That’s what we’re after.

Then the loop is closed and we are ready to have that conversation about increased support. The donor feels appreciated. Because this is really about that donor experience. Everything we do, we have to monitor that donor experience. How would it make you feel? Do you feel like a dollar sign or do you feel like a trusted partner? That’s what we’re after. So use an impact letter. We, of course, have a great template here at Productive Fundraising. Give that a download, put it into use in your organization.