3 Ways to Show Nonprofit Impact

Lou
Kotsinis

3 Ways to Show Nonprofit Impact

Last year, Network For Good asked 3,000 nonprofit donors what motivated them to give. The answers were enlightening, but not surprising.

Some donors gave because they felt connected to the organization’s mission. Some gave because they trusted the organization to do the right thing with their dollars. And yet others simply wanted to be part of something larger than themselves.

To me though, one motivating factor stood out among the rest: nonprofit impact. Among the top answers the respondents offered was that they gave because they saw the impact that their donation was making.

An image of 3 darts, suggesting 3 ways to drive impact

Having worked with dozens of causes and nonprofit organizations, we’ve seen the importance of showcasing the real-world impact of a nonprofit’s work as a means of conveying to donors that their money is literally doing good.

But how do we illustrate nonprofit impact in ways that encourage supporters to actually donate? Providing statistics and real-world efficacy of programs is a great first step, but to truly engage potential donors, you’ll need to tell in-depth, engaging stories about how your cause is making positive change in the world. Here are three ways to do just that:

    • 1. Impact Profiles
    • Impact profiles offer a comprehensive look at those who benefit from your cause. They work to humanize your topic, making it more relatable to your audience. This goes deeper than simply showcasing facts and figures, giving people a nuanced understanding of where the money is going and the good it’s doing in practice.
    • Our client SpreadMusicNow funds music education programs throughout Connecticut, and in doing so, transforms the lives of children across the state. Sure, we can provide statistics of how many programs have been funded, and how many hours of music education children have received, but it’s much more engaging to hear from the students themselves—students we then showcase on the organization’s website—and who share their dreams and talk about how music education has affected them personally.
    • Your cause doesn’t have to focus on human services to benefit from illustrations of impact. An animal welfare charity can profile a particular species or region; an environmental cause can go-in depth on a specific conservation initiative, and so forth. What matters is that you’re sharing the best examples of how you’re making a positive impact on the world, in a way that establishes an emotional connection and emphasizes real change.
    • Ideally, you’ll want to document the stories of the actual recipients of your services or programs; where that’s not feasible, either from a cost or practical standpoint, you can feature your executive director or other influential team member to share the good that’s being done and the impact you’re making in your field.
    • 3. Data Visualization
    • Data visualization is a fancy term for making statistics and information visually appealing and interactive on the web. This can take the form of artistically-rendered graphs and charts and/or graphics or other items that move or respond when the user scrolls over them, thereby showcasing content in an engaging way.
Pew Research developed this chart using data visualization to highlight changes in U.S. demographics over time.
  • You can do some amazing things with data visualization, and since the user themselves is often taking part in the process (after all, they need to take the action to see the result) they will be, by definition engaged.

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Chances are that you already have a compelling mission, and your donor base has trust in your stewardship of their dollars. Now, ensure that you’re not just telling donors how you’re changing the world but showing them, through compelling impact stories.

Note that once you have this content up on your website, you can then amplify it through your social channels and refer to it in your emails, presentations, webinars and even events; strong impact stories carry a lot of weight, and delivered correctly, bring results.

I hope you’re as excited about showcasing impact as we are; think about the ways in which you can illustrate impact in your own organization, and if you need help along the way, we’re only an email away.

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