So what can a nonprofit do to get needed resources from donors? Here’s what the research suggests.
Promote your results. Donors want to know how nonprofits are evaluating their progress, and they like seeing the information presented it a consistent format. One approach they like is called Charting Impact, a project started by Independent Sector, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar. Nonprofits can create reports on the Charting Impact site by answering five easy questions. Smart organizations will fill these in now, mention them in year-end mailings, feature links to the reports on their home pages, and get everyone on the staff to include a link in their e-mail signatures.
Focus on outcomes. While the news media and other sources have taught donors to focus on overhead and other such issues, we know from our research that donors are interested in learning more. Nonprofits can shift the conversation from administrative costs to impact by emphasizing how they are achieving their missions. They must tell compelling stories and share hard data about the changes they are making in the world.
Tell your story. Take every opportunity to provide information about your accomplishments in places where donors will see it—especially on your Web site, which is the first place most donors go. Show off your ratings from other parties, such as those from charity watchdog and evaluation sites.
Connect to your audience. Even for donors taking a more critically informed approach, giving remains for the most part an emotional experience. It is therefore as important as ever for you to know and to understand the motivations of your donors.
Follow-up. More than anything else, donors want to ensure that nonprofits are using their donations appropriately. Showing donors how you have used their money will help you involve them in your cause and motivate them to consider repeat gifts.
What other tips can you share?