Do your donors FEEL the difference they made?


We talk a lot around here about “Reporting back to donors” so that they know the difference their gift made.

Because if they don’t know the difference their gift made, the chances they are going to give you another gift have flown out the window and landed on the doorstep of the next nonprofit they are going to support.

But I want to talk for a moment about the goal of your Reporting.  It’s to make your donor feel like she made a difference.   Not “understand” that she made a difference, or not “prove” that she made a difference, but FEEL like she made a difference.

And you do that by using stories, not statistics.

Internal staff and experts love statistics.  But most donors don’t.  In all the testing that I’ve done, making a big number or a statistic the main part of any fundraising piece will reduce the amount of money you raise.

Statistics and big numbers have their place.  But they should be supporting points, never headlines or first sentences.  To appropriate a famous quote from Steve Jobs, “If you see a big number or statistic, they blew it.”

Instead, tell compelling stories about people whose lives have been changed with help from the donor’s gift.  That’s the way to make a donor feel like she made a difference.

Aim your communications at donors’ hearts, not their heads.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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