Want to communicate better with your funders and supporters? To effectively boost donations from supporters, spread the word about your work to new audiences, or demonstrate the value of your work to key stakeholders, you need to develop strategies to share your nonprofit’s community impact. Impact sharing, when done well, can help nonprofits achieve their organization’s goals and make a real difference in the world.
But few nonprofits are taking the time to collect comprehensive impact data, and even fewer are sharing it in effective ways. SureImpact’s “Primer on Nonprofit Impact Measurement” notes that of the nonprofits that do collect impact data, only 6% feel that they’re using that information to influence their greater strategy.
As you take steps to more meaningfully share your nonprofit’s impact, consider these four tips:
- Establish impact measures.
- Leverage hard data alongside anecdotal evidence.
- Optimize for your target audience.
- Share your impact across channels and platforms.
Don’t let your impact go unnoticed! Let’s take a closer look—starting with defining your impact measures.
1. Establish impact measures.
Before you can share your impact, you need to know what you want to achieve. Without clear measures in place, it will be difficult for you (or your supporters) to know if your nonprofit’s actions are having the desired effect—or any effect at all.
To define your measures, we recommend using a logic model approach to map out the cause-and-effect relationships between your goals, outcomes, and activities. Working backward, your logic model should address the following elements:
- Goals. What do you want to achieve? What will success look like?
- Outcomes. What will change as a result of your goals?
- Outputs. How many clients or constituents did you reach?
- Activities. What are the actions you are taking to make your goals a reality?
- Inputs. What do you need in order to conduct these activities?
Your impact measures will consist of the quantitative and qualitative metrics you associate with each element of the logic model. Taken together, they should paint a clear picture of your nonprofit’s progress toward your goals.
Only once you know exactly what to measure—and start measuring it—can you begin to develop a strategy for how to share it with your community.
2. Leverage hard data alongside anecdotal evidence.
Sharing your nonprofit impact effectively requires you to simultaneously reach both the emotional and rational parts of your audience’s brains. When sharing impact, it’s essential to leverage hard data and anecdotal evidence to tell a compelling impact story.
- Hard data is quantitative information about your impact that can be collected, measured, and analyzed. Quantitative data can include validated survey and assessment instruments.
- Anecdotal evidence is qualitative data that often comes from case studies, interviews, and focus groups that provides insights into how your work affects your community.
While hard data provides a clear picture of what’s happening, anecdotal evidence provides a human story that helps people connect with your work.
When sharing your impact, be open, honest, and transparent about your nonprofit, including your successes and challenges. Your audience will appreciate your authenticity and will be more likely to offer you their support.
3. Optimize for your target audience.
How you share your impact (and what you include in your messaging) will depend on who your target audience is. Your target audience will dictate the type of information you share and how you share it. To best tailor your approach to your unique audience, answer the following questions:
- Who do you want to reach?
- Where (and when) are they most receptive to your messaging?
- What do they want to know?
- Why do they care?
Then, with this information, you can create messaging that shares your impact in a way that will resonate with audiences. For example, if you’re trying to reach an audience of local supporters, you may want to share impact with language that references your local activities alongside images of volunteers and staff in the community. On the other hand, if you’re trying to connect with a data-driven national funder, you may focus on more data-heavy language and infographics.
4. Share your impact across channels and platforms.
Optimization also means sharing your impact in more than one way. In fact, in addition to sharing your impact on your website or annual report, consider leveraging the following platforms and channels:
- Social Media. Enlist influencers in the nonprofit sector to share your posts and help spread the word.
- Text. Send short impact updates to supporters via text, along with calls for donations and volunteers.
- Video Stream. Host a live online event or announcement from a beloved leader that speaks to supporters from the heart.
- Email. Include a section in your next email newsletter that updates followers on your current impact metrics for the year.
Sharing across multiple platforms and channels ensures that your message reaches a broader audience and that people can access your impact information in a way that is most convenient for them.
Additionally, you can take sharing impact to the next level by creating a continuous feedback loop that constantly updates partners, funders, and other key stakeholders on your nonprofit’s real-time impact. A feedback loop ensures that your information is accurate and up-to-date and that your organization is immediately responsive to feedback. Moreover, it builds trust with your community and shows that you value their input.
With these strategies, you can better share (and assess!) your nonprofit’s impact. In many cases, digital impact assessment and measurement tools can help streamline the process from determining measures to automatically sending timely data to relevant stakeholders. As a result, you can show your supporters how you are making a difference, why they should support you, and what they can do to help.