Ask yourself if your nonprofit is really making an impact and if anyone actually knows. For example, in 2010, when the devastating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and the world responded. Over the course of two years, international donors raised an unbelievable 6.43 billion dollars for Haitian reconstruction. For many, making a contribution had never been so easy. While viewers from around the globe watched as the events unfolded that completely leveled the nation of Haiti, they were also met with a real-time tangible way of giving. For many, they will recall the first time they saw the appeal for help via text message.
The campaign itself raised millions of dollars from a simple call to action of $10 texts to the word “HAITI”. It also wasn’t the first time either. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf, the Red Cross collected nearly $130,000 from cell phones.
But Haiti, was at a whole new level, raising at its peak, $500,000 in one hour via text messages. This was crowdfunding on steroids, that in real-time, tapped the emotions of a global audience that felt compelled to give. This was quick, easy, and intuitive..
It Felt Good To Give, But..
With all the global sentiment that would pour into the small West Indian island of Hispaniola, which is home to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, it felt good to give, but the NGO world would soon be reminded of something too easily forgotten, but oh so important.
Just a year after the earthquake hit Haiti, donors were asked about their biggest frustrations with non-profits post the 2010 disaster. The top two responses were:
Lack of follow-up
Lack of follow through
This was so much the case that when the tragic tsunami ripped through Japan in 2011, a major NGO key player in Haiti, as well as with the Japan response, was asked to go on CNN for an interview. Interviewers typically ask questions that they feel the public is most interested in hearing an answer to. During the interview, the question of impact transparency was first and foremost.
Long after the fundraising campaign ends, often times, it is impact transparency that gets all but forgotten. But in a world of impact, are you transparent? In the information age where news travels at hyper-speed and given a clear desire from supporters to know what impact they have had, is your impact statement fast and clear?
People Want To Give, But..
Although, we saw the need for impact transparency loud and clear following the events in Haiti back in 2010, it’s now been coming up on a decade later, and guess what? We are seeing a renewed interest from non-profits towards social impact transparency. For certain, people want to give, but, they also want accountability.
As a non-profit, don’t just sell me something, solve something for me, and then show me the progress. People love being a part of the solution. On a side note, people also love being engaged with the progress.
Too often, it can become solely about the fundraising campaign, but the secret is, what you do in-between fundraising campaigns to foster transparency, accountability, and trust is what in the end, is going to lead to retention, sustainability, and growth of donors and donor base.
With the rise of social media and mobile phones, came the rise of impulse giving via crowdfunding.
But, how much impact are you really making? In a world of shiny campaigns that seek to raise funds for various causes, when the rubber meets the road, are these campaigns effective? Is this organization or that organization making an impact?
Good storytelling is good storytelling, but effective stewardship breeds lasting results. People want to help, but they also want to be on a winning team. It isn’t enough to win, they have to see that you’re winning.
Evaluating About 2,400 U.S.-Based Charities
In November of 2017, Charity Navigator, the country’s leading online charity evaluation service announced that on #GivingTuesday, they would make available on their website, impact statements and progress reports for 2,400 charities, free of charge.
In the press release announcing that these impact reports would be made available, it also stated that this is what many donors had been asking for.
The release was targeted around the annual #GivingTuesday campaign, which refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving in the United States that is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season.
With this, it begs the question, how transparent is your non-profit? How are you providing your donor base and potential donors with impact statements of your own?
The Campaign Begins After The Campaign Ends
In speaking with several non-profit leaders based in Portland, Oregon, many shared with us how they approach their fundraising campaigns.
It was amazing to see the similarities, in that for many, and these were decent sized nonprofits, how often there was no thought towards how to atomize their fundraising campaigns into social impact transparency strategies. Strategies that were designed to provide accountability via providing a consistent flow of updates and stories through blogs, videos, email and social media.
The thinking is that, we’ve raised the funds, now we can go spend the money. But oh yeah, who’s going to tell the story? Providing impact transparency doesn’t need to be an afterthought. And, it shouldn’t be. People crave it.
So, how can we weave into our fundraising campaigns at the beginning a social impact transparency strategy that begins, when they end?
5 Things Non-Profits Should Do With Every Fundraising Campaign
It’s called the 5:01 strategy. If your campaign ends at 5:00 on a Sunday evening, what happens at 5:01 is when the clock starts ticking on accountability. Next time your organization sits down to plan that next fundraising campaign, here are 5 other things you should do every time:
Define the metric
Hopefully, this metric has already been woven into the fundraising ask in the first place. Knowing what you are solving, how much it will cost, the impact the solution will have, and how you will know when you have achieved it are all essential. In atomizing your campaign into these threads, you are now well on your way towards establishing a roadmap that reflects impact transparency.
Build a roadmap
It’s 5:01, the campaign is over. Now what? For many, it was enough to just cross the finish line of another fundraising effort. But this is where it all begins.
By creating a roadmap, which essentially is a calendar, you can atomize your campaign selling points into messaging updates. Remember what people were most frustrated with after Haiti? Lack of follow-up and lack of follow through.
Build a roadmap so that you can avoid these same frustrations.
Progress in numbers
It has been said that 50% of your donors are left brained. Yet, too often, we see impact updates that are all about the story. This is great, but for these group of donors, it needs to be quantifiable. Don’t get lost in translation and assume. Numbers people will respond to numbers. Speak their language.
Progress with stories
The same can then be said about right brainers. They love stories. They love images. They love social media for this reason. And let’s face it, people respond to stories and images. But even then, they do still want accountability.
In his bestselling book released in 1951 called The True Believer, Eric Hoffer discusses the passions for the masses. In this, he states that what people want is both a sense of belonging and a sense of equality.
This is so true.
People love being a part of the solution. From making a contribution to being active with deliverables to even an invitation to engage a simple social media post, if there is one place where algorithms can combine, this is that place. It also will provide your donors with a sense of ownership which will almost always lead to retention.
Do you know what else ownership leads to? The invitation of their network to join them.
Making Your Impact Transparent Will Pay Major Dividends
In conclusion, the fact that you are even reading this article says your serious about what you do. It also shows that you want to be effective. Often times, it can be the minor things that need a little tweaking that can help take an organization from surviving to thriving.
With making your impact transparent, this is one of those minor tweaks, that can pay major dividends.