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Fidelity Charitable published a report, which had some notable findings for nonprofit executives. Some of the results included the following:

  • Two-thirds of donors want to increase their giving to philanthropy.
  • 95 percent of philanthropic supporters would increase their giving under what they consider to be the “right circumstances.”

What’s keeping that giving at bay?

  • 72 percent would increase their giving if their financial circumstances allowed it.
  • 65 percent would raise their donations if they understood the impact of their charitable gifts.
  • The most significant influencers for donor giving concern the impact and financial planning of the organization.

An important statement in the report was the following: “And because their financial resources are finite, donors want to ensure their dollars are used appropriately—so more than 8 in 10 donors have concerns about how their donations will be used and if they will make a difference.” While multiple factors influenced donor giving, 81 percent said that nonprofit transparency and impact were essential to their gift.

Finite Resources

The reality is that the vast majority of donors and supporters to nonprofit organizations are not wealthy and only have limited financial resources. This is an essential consideration for nonprofit executives to consider. Sometimes, fundraisers or executives don’t place themselves in the shoes of their general gift donors who want to make an impact philanthropically but have to weigh their gifts to charity against their own needs and that of their families.

Many, and perhaps even most, small nonprofit organizations do not have a pipeline and substantial major gifts effort and pipeline. Many organizations depend on the giving of the $10, $50 and $100 dollar a year donor who wants to make a difference but does not have unlimited resources.

Importance of Impact

So, let’s dig into the reality that most donors have limited resources. If donors have only so much money to give but want to support the philanthropic community, then nonprofits that demonstrate impact are the ones that will gain more from supporters, including fundraising dollars. As Fidelity reported, 65 percent of donors would increase their nonprofit giving if they understood the impact their gifts made.

Why don’t more nonprofits clearly demonstrate impact?

I think a lot of that answer is that the vast majority of nonprofits are small mom and pop shops and simply don’t have the understanding of impact or ability to measure it in a meaningful way. It’s as basic as nonprofit executives not understanding how to demonstrate in a quantifiable and rigorous way the difference their organization is making toward their mission.

However, there are resources out there that can provide charitable organizations with the basics regarding how to measure the difference they’re making in society.

National Council of Nonprofits

As an example, the National Council of Nonprofits has comprehensive and easy to understand resources that will help your charitable organization to evaluate the outcomes. By visiting the Evaluation and Measurement of Outcomespage, nonprofits––even the small ones––can find crucial resources to apply toward impact, including some of the following.

  • Leap of Reason: an organization that has books and other resources for nonprofits that want to be high-performing organizations.
  • Data Playbook: from the Shusterman Foundation provides nonprofits with information about how to collect and use data in support of their missions.
  • Logic Model Development Guide: created by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which provides nonprofits with information for logic modeling.

The National Council of Nonprofit’s outcomes page is an essential resource for charities to use so they can begin to understand the elements of data and impact. The greater understanding that nonprofit executives have around quantifiable outcomes and results, the better chance they have to communicate effectively––and transparently––about why people should make a gift to them with their hard-earned money.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to Dominate Your Fundraising to Create Your Success”(Free Digital Download)

© 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.