Masayo Hosokawa, a private donor for Unicef Japan, plays with an infant at Azedebo Health Post in SNNPR State of Ethiopia

Will my gift make a difference?

by Kevin Wilson on July 21st, 2017

(The following is an excerpt from Harvey McKinnon’s book “11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave“.)

The question, “Will my one gift make a difference?” is a core question for virtually all donors. And a closely related question is: Will my gift make a greater difference here or should I give to another cause?

As a person of modest means who loves to give, I constantly struggle with this. And I know my wealthy friends feel it acutely.

If you want ongoing support, you must show donors that they can affect a life, save an endangered animal, protect a river. It is their umbilical cord to your organization. And there are tools you can use to achieve this.

One technique is to break down the actual cost of a program and put tangible dollar amounts next to a piece of equipment, a bag of seeds, or the cost of sending a child to summer camp.

For decades Missions Across North America has run an enormously successful campaign advertising that “$2.59 will buy a meal for a homeless person.” Of course, Union Gospel also gives you the option of feeding 10 people or even 100.

Another underused tool is “reporting back.” Say with the help of donors your hospital raises $160,000 for a new echocardiogram machine. Some organizations mail a postcard a few days after the equipment is purchased to thank those who contributed.

Other organizations take the time to call their donors. This can be powerful, especially when you’re able to tell how the donor’s contribution will be used. A phone call opens up the possibility of a rich dialogue as well.

Nonprofit websites and blogs are another tool for reporting back. For a donor logging on to Greenpeace International, there are videos, petitions, photos, podcasts, games, discussion forums – all designed to involve donors (or potential donors) and to show the tremendous impact of their gifts.

A final way to show donors how their gifts matter is to arrange for them to meet with the people they help. A number of international development agencies invite major donors (who pay their own way) to visit projects in the developing world. Major environmental groups often have guided tours to spectacular wilderness areas in need of funds to protect them. On a more local level, some women’s shelters invite donors to meet with the women their gifts help.

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