The Importance of Showing Impact: Engaging Donors with Data
As we head into Thanksgiving we’re receiving constant reminders from virtually every channel that we’re nearing the end of the year. Whether it be Black Friday discounts, cold weather or holiday plans, you can’t ignore the fact that we’re creeping towards the end of the year that was 2020. For the social sector, that also means a heightened period of fundraising, both around #GivingTuesday and general year-end appeals.
It is a known fact that the ability to communicate your impact is crucial when engaging potential donors. Put simply with research from CASE and their study of the science of philanthropy: “informing donors about the specific impact of their donations can increase generosity.” All donors want to see that their contributions will translate to tangible impact, and it is up to the nonprofit to collect and present this information in an accessible and digestible way. Just like many retailers are fighting for your attention this week, potential donors are going to be seeing many appeals next week as well. So how can you stand out? We chatted with UpMetrics partner Beyond Sports Foundation to see how they’re utilizing their data to gear up for success in their year-end fundraising efforts.
What is the key item you look to communicate to donors?
We want to focus on what is crucial for the organization today, because that is where the donor will be able to see tangible impact the fastest and it is what will set us up for success in achieving our desired outcomes.
This year that meant focusing on one of our four pillars: academics. With the pandemic academics became a priority for us so we adjusted our narrative to zero in on this area of impact. We’re detailing how we pivoted to virtual learning and its positive results, as well as what we will need to reopen the academic center looking forward (PPE, plastic barriers, masks, etc.). In our appeals, it is crucial to show where we need funding and why we need it, and with data we’re able to do this.
What do you consider when deciding what data to highlight for donors?
As much as you can speak to the current times the better. Everything in our year-end letters speak to the last 8 months. Especially this year, when we had to shift programming and go entirely digital, we want to show how we’re actively using data to drive decision making every day.
Before beginning our fundraising campaigns, we update our impact profile so we can make sure the story we’re telling is reflected in the data. Then we can email a link to the profile after mailing a letter to potential donors, combining a written appeal with the quantitative data of impact.
Why is it important for potential funders to see how you’re using data?
We want to show how these data reporting and analytics tools and resources truly translate into impact. This context is crucial if we solicit funds in the future to support additional investment in data tools. Potential donors also look to see if you’re tracking and reporting data, and are impressed when they see how we’re actively using information to drive decision making.
As Alec Brown, Executive Director at Beyond Sports Foundation, stressed in our conversation: everyone is looking for more data on impact. Whether it be your current donors or the next generation of younger donors, it is imperative that you’re able to answer questions around progress toward goals and overall impact. For Beyond Sports Foundation, their impact profile created with UpMetrics is an easy tool that can be utilized to communicate this information effectively. If you don’t have access to a data reporting and analytics tool, consider some of the tips Alec provided to strengthen your appeal and explore the additional resources listed below.
See additional examples of impact profiles here.
Learn more about partnering with UpMetrics.
Tell your story of impact with data from UpMetrics
How to tie fundraising dollars to impact from Classy.org
4 ways to communicate impact from CauseVox