Category Archives — Storytelling

Major Gifts: It’s All About Donor Impact

Donors don’t care what you need. They care about their impact.

I had just finished presenting a workshop titled, “Opportunity Knocks: Major Gift Fundraising for Smaller Nonprofits.” It covered the topics you’d expect: how to use donor research, setting up the visit, the case for support, making the “ask” and responding to, “Let me think about it.” But I always add a segment about emotion driving individual giving, the power of storytelling to convey emotion and what donors want: to know they are having an impact.

The workshop ended. A participant came up to me and described her situation: Her nonprofit recently lost one of its larger grants. She was about to go out and meet with individual donors (that’s good!) and make the case around the need to replace the lost grant with individual gifts.

I just started to say, “No…. ” when another participant waiting to speak with me said, “I have to tell you this story.”

And here’s the gist of what she said:

We were near the end of a multi-million dollar campaign. Our Chief Development Officer went to a long-standing supporter and asked if he would donate $1 million to close out the campaign. The donor said, “no.”

Shortly thereafter, the Chief Development Officer discovered that the donor had just made a $2 million dollar gift to the American Cancer Society. He calls the donor to see “what gives” (more politely than that, of course).

Here’s what the donor told him: You asked me to close out a campaign. They asked me to help cure cancer.

And there you have it! Need vs. Impact. Impact wins, every time.

Impact Calls: Share nonprofit results on an interactive call

Public companies have earnings calls. Why don’t nonprofits have impact calls? 

From “GuideStar’s Impact Call is a revolutionary idea: to quickly and proactively provide results to constituents and begin a systematic dialogue that encourages data-driven decision making across the sector.” Jacob Harold, President and CEO

I learned about Impact Calls when Guidestar’s Lindsay Nichols presented at Office Depot Foundation’s annual nonprofit conference. (Let it also be said that Guidestar is not just for Form 990’s anymore. Check out their other services.)

Impact Calls: What are they?

It takes almost a year for a Form 990 to become publicly available. Impact Calls present an organization’s results to the world in a timely way. The idea is to be transparent and invite everyone. In the corporate world, the audience is dominated by shareholders, press, and investment firms. In nonprofit land, we expect to see funders, service recipients, volunteers and press.

Guidestar tested the idea, and, to its surprise, had over 400 participants on its first call, which was hosted on Webex (there are many similar services).

What do you talk about?

  • How you did—financially and programmatically
  • What worked: successes
  • What didn’t – and what you learned: failures
  • New developments

Tip: Tell stories, don’t just present data.

Why have Impact Calls?

  1. Engage your stakeholders in a dialogue
  2. Promote transparency
  3. Be inclusive – everyone is invited
  4. Take a leadership position
  5. Share knowledge
  6. Let funders know what impact they had
  7. Let funders know what remains to be done
  8. Learn what’s on your stakeholders minds
  9. Launch something new
  10. Provide press content

Further engage your constituents with Impact Calls!