Many of the global challenges that we aim to solve seem to come with these big, intimidating numbers – billions of people without water, hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals, 70% of schoolchildren qualifying for free or reduced price lunches.
So it’s no wonder that many donors find it hard to connect their support and making a dent in these seemingly ever-growing issues. What can $10 or $25 do when so many people are in need, and when so many places need protection and support?
The nonprofit sector continues to collect data that shows that people want and need to know the impact of their contributions before and after they donate.
As charitable financial and program information is more readily available thanks to sites like Guidestar and Charity Navigator, and orgs are turning out fancy interactive annual reports, donors want to support organizations they can trust, and that starts with knowing how their money is making a difference.
The Millennial Impact Report found that 78% of Millennials are very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they are not informed how their donation has made an impact. And a recent Charities Aid Foundation survey found that 68% of respondents said knowing how a charity is having an impact is one of the most valuable pieces of information they can have, affecting future decisions.
This is where a good impact metric comes in. While you can’t really equate the cost of a cup of coffee with saving a life, there are many quantifiable measures of impact your nonprofit can use to make donor contributions more tangible and more connected.
The desire for a more personal, human narrative through storytelling has been manifesting itself in a variety of ways, as nonprofits get more creative with their fundraising campaigns and messaging.
“Here are just four ways to quantify impact for your crowdfunding campaign, for #GivingTuesday and beyond.” tweet this
For years, charitable organizations have been using the person-to-person impact metric to solicit donations: from “adopting” a child or animal for a monthly or daily donation to spending $10 on a bed net to prevent death from malaria for one person, this approach might be one of the most relatable and heartstring-tugging you can employ.
Helping millions of people is hard to wrap your head around; helping one person is easy and affordable. While it may be pretty obvious that photos of children or animals goes a long way in driving donations, there’s actual data behind it — one study found that “the reason people give to identifiable victims is because of the emotional impact it has — and specifically, the more positive emotion, the more impact.”
The person-to-person impact metric is the closest one might get to literally and directly giving to someone (or a furry friend), and organizations that can provide stories and updates from these connections make the gift even more rewarding.
- She’s the First offers various levels to sponsor a girl in a low-income country; funds support things like school supplies, mentors, lunches, and more.
- Casita Copán’s $5,000 #GivingTuesday campaign will provide food, school and medical costs, and more for orphaned children at their center.
An offshoot of the person-to-person metric is one based on specific, tangible items, materials, or experiences that help to support an organization’s goals, or that are distributed directly to the people it supports.
Donors Choose lets people select classrooms to support based on supplies needed like books, electronic devices, and more. Advocates’ #SummerofFun campaign provided options to fund zoo outings, kayak rentals, a catered BBQ, and more for individuals or groups with disabilities.
It’s great to able to quantify impact with a statement like, “You’ve helped to provide 5,000 books for the school library” or “Thanks for helping us distribute 250 Thanksgiving meals to families in Brooklyn.” If providing a person-to-person connection doesn’t quite fit with your nonprofit’s mission, an item-based impact metric could be your best choice.
- World Bicycle Relief’s donation levels pay for wheelsets, mechanics kits, and ready-to-ride bikes for people in rural areas.
- Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop wants to provide 10,000 literary journals for youths in schools, libraries, detention facilities, & group homes.
3. Project, Program, Or Campaign
Sometimes it can be hard to quantify a donation amount with a specific person or item, so nonprofits have to be creative in how they equate a gift to their program work overall or a specific project.
“It can be hard to quantify a donation with a specific person or item, so nonprofits have to be creative…” tweet this
These types of metrics can start to get more vague – less based on numbers, and more focused on a general concept or big picture goal. Still, there are ways to ask for donations that give insight as to the potential impact.
For instance, donating $50 to a local Girl Scouts troop may help them fund various activities, field trips, trainings, or uniforms for the upcoming year, or giving $25 to the American Red Cross in the wake of a natural disaster will most effectively help them buy the supplies they need in that moment.
Often, a project, program, or campaign-based ask is somewhat temporary, and does have some restrictions around how the funds can be used, so it’s in your best interest to add some detail around that to compel donations.
- Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research & Education (MMORE) created a campaign to fund a research project in clinical trial, speeding up the process.
- H.O.M.E.’s “Pajama Gala” #GivingTuesday campaign has a $15,000 goal to serve elderly residents in Chicago through meals, transportation, and home safety programs.
4. Long-Term Vision & Investment
The most intangible metric to quantify can often be your “exit strategy” goal – the moment when your work is done and the problem has been solved. Some organizations have an easier way of tracking this than others, and some nonprofits feel as if there is no end in sight.
Painting a positive theory of change and illustrating your long-term vision can be a challenge, especially when it comes to crafting your fundraising appeal. Many nonprofits are using the term “investment” these days to show how donating now will impact future outcomes and ideals like health, prosperity, and peace. You can’t put a number on these things – but you can break it down into the steps to get there, and the path to progress, and that’s what you can fund.
- The #GivingTuesday campaign “Give Hope, Give Freedom” from the Dui Hua Foundation puts their donations toward supporting at-risk detainees in China.
- Water For People is providing access to safe water for Everyone Forever by showing proof of progress through their systems-based approach, community by community.
You may find that your fundraising campaign uses a combination of these impact measures, which is fairly common. The more closely you can equate a donation with something happening to show change, the easier it will be to create a compelling narrative that drives donations, donor stories, and most importantly, fosters a deeper trust with donors to establish a long-term relationship.