Your nonprofit has received funding and is doing great work. But that is not enough. You must be prepared to answer this fundamental question: what did you do with the money? This question may be asked in a grant report you are required to submit to a funder; it might be asked over the phone during an unscheduled call. In all cases, we encourage you to be prepared.
Consider this: foundations, corporations, organizations, and individuals who provide funding are trying to address community needs in a way that they themselves cannot. For example, they need your nonprofit to feed the hungry, grow the pipeline of minority-owned businesses, increase academic achievement, reduce violence, and address the many different impacts that COVID-19 has had on communities across the country. No one can do it alone, but you are part of the solution. Think about how you will communicate your impact to those who are providing funding or could do so in the future.
We recommend putting the same time and attention into communicating impact as you put into fundraising. Believe it or not, communication and reporting is a critical component of fundraising. We share the following questions for you to consider. Everyone won’t need to answer all these questions; rather these are things to consider as your craft your impact message.
Money related questions: What did you do with the money you raised? How was it spent, and what was the impact? What impacts have been achieved over the past three years? Is there a trend? If you have received new major gifts and grants over the past 18 months, what has changed for those you serve or advocate on behalf of? What was your organization like before new investments and what has happened since? What do you envision for the future? What is your annual budget?
Quantitative and qualitative information? What can you share in terms of numbers? For example, how many families are you serving? What is the race, age, gender, and other demographic information of your constituency? How many people have moved out of poverty in your community? What is the level of educational attainment? How has children’s learning been impacted by the pandemic? What are the stories you can share that let people feel the impact your work makes on individuals?
Meeting a need and delivering on promises. Does your organization meet a need? Does that need still exist? Has it changed? How has COVID and COVID-related funding changed, increased, or decreased need? Did your nonprofit do what it said it was going to do? Did you have to change your work to respond to the unpredictable environment? Did you collaborate in new ways? Can you verify your results and impact?
This has been an unpredictable 18 months and there will certainly be more uncertainty! Be prepared to communicate how you deliver on your nonprofit’s mission and adapt to changing needs. People want to know your impact because they need you to act on their behalf.
[Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]