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June 28th, 2018

Storytelling has always been a tried-and-true approach in fund raising, but do you ever “close the loop” by informing the donor of their gifts’ outcome? You’re not alone…

We review hundreds of fund raising letters each month, and the preponderance of copy focuses on the need for support. Virtually every charity has implemented a process to quickly thank supporters for their gifts and acknowledge the receipt for tax purposes…

…but then what? In almost every case, the next communication after the acknowledgement is yet another request for funds.

So how do your best supporters know the impact of their gifts?

Closing the loop in the initial mailing that asks for a gift can depress response. If the child’s life has already been saved, the medical breakthrough accomplished, the scenic landscape restored, or the university scholarship funded, what is the case for giving? Storytelling demonstrates the need and the desire for funding, and is especially powerful when the donor is left hanging.

Can the child be saved, the next medical breakthrough happen, or the pristine wilderness be preserved? It can with your gift!

Some nonprofits use their acknowledgement to supposedly demonstrate the impact of giving, but the quick turnaround for thank-yous makes it seem insincere or canned. A better approach is a dedicated communication that takes place days or weeks (or even months) later, highlighting the real-world impact of a donor gift.

For a cleft charity, a photo of a child who received surgery. For a hospital, the purchase of lab equipment or funding for an investigator’s research. For an environmental nonprofit, the filing of a legal brief or the successful defeat of a ruling. For an animal welfare organization, the rescue and placement of companion animals into forever homes. For an international relief organization, the protection of families to overcome a natural disaster.

These communications don’t have to be fancy––just a brief note with an accompanying photo or two. It can be digital for donors who are active online or a low-cost mailing for donors at a certain level to minimize the expense. Most importantly, it should be consistently implemented, especially if promised in the initial outreach communication.

Note that each outbound mailing does not need a unique “close the loop” effort––the acknowledgement can take care of that task. This affirmation approach only needs to demonstrate how your nonprofit used the funds wisely, with a “slice of life” that clearly displays the impact of donor support!

By Ron Bell | Managing Partner and Founder

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