By Melissa Lagowski
Big Buzz Idea Group
When nonprofits communicate important information, they often share it as news. For example, they’ll serve up financial figures in an annual report or publish fundraising event details in a newsletter. While this kind of communication is informative, it may not do much to help your organization stand out.
If you convert your focus to showing the impact, you’ll share a far more powerful story. How do those dollars translate to number of people served? How exactly will a fundraiser make a difference in an individual’s life? That’s the story to tell.
Why Sharing Your Impact Matters
Describe the impact of your work to help people better understand your mission, and in turn, be more likely to gain their attention and support. People have a limited amount of time and money—so what will make them choose to support your organization? Spoiler alert: a pretty design or a fun theme only goes so far in setting you apart.
Leading with impact—how many people you’ve served, the specific benefits of your services, the stories of how your organization made a difference —will make your nonprofit stand out. That type of information helps people decide how and when to part with their personal time or make an investment. It compels people to volunteer, donate, and spread the word about your organization.
How to Show Your Impact
It’s more impactful to hear from those who benefit from your services than those who work for the organization. Here are a few ways to position your nonprofit for stronger and more compelling story sharing:
- Go deeper into one person’s story. Show how your organization made a difference in this person’s life.
- Share different people’s perspectives. For example, a tutoring program can convey the depth of its impact by featuring feedback from the child, their family, and their teacher.
- Talk about the ripple effect. When an individual receives help, it also has a positive effect on their family, friends, and community. Give insight into those benefits.
- Make the value of your organization tangible. What does it look like in real-life terms?
Nonprofit membership associations can apply this idea of impact to their communications by sharing quantifiable results and qualitative stories that demonstrate the benefits of being a member.
Ways to Communicate Impact
Any time you’re talking about dollar amounts or fundraising details, you have an opportunity to translate them into benefits, value and impact. Your organization’s impact is a message that can be shared year-round and through many different communication channels, including:
- Impact report (rather than a traditional annual report)
- Annual appeal
- Donation solicitation
- Events and programs
- Fundraiser auction levels
We’re seeing this take shape as an evolution in the nonprofit industry. More and more, organizations are talking about the number of lives touched rather than performance or dollars raised. They’re describing donation amounts in terms of specific services (for example, this amount would cover rent for one month for a family in need) rather than labelling levels with a color (gold, silver) or name (champion, friend). Organizations are telling stories and showing the tangible impact of their work.
It can be a challenge for nonprofits to stand out, but we’ve seen the incredible impact of leading with impact. In the work we do for our nonprofit clients—whether that be marketing efforts, event planning and execution, or administrative tasks—we think about how every type of communication is an opportunity to share an organization’s impact.
So go ahead and tell those stories. Connect people with who you serve and who you stand for. Make the impact of volunteer time, donations, or membership tangible and specific. Leading with impact is a powerful way to help your organization gain support and further its mission.