Why your nonprofit needs to ditch the annual report to drive more donations

When Dan Pallotta delivered his 2013 TED Talk, The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong, he challenged the way we all assess charities with this compelling statement.

“The next time you’re looking at a charity, don’t ask about the rate of their overhead. Ask about the scale of their dreams, their Apple-, Google-, Amazon-scale dreams, how they measure their progress toward those dreams, and what resources they need to make them come true, regardless of what the overhead is. Who cares what the overhead is if these problems are actually getting solved?”

Make this the inspiration for a new impact communications strategy that motivates your volunteers and staff, as well as inspiring and engaging your donors, sponsors and major partners.

One annual report, no matter how big and shiny, isn’t going to cut it.

Traditionally, nonprofits have gone to town on researching, writing and designing one almighty annual report for their donors, sponsors and major partners, in much the same way as for-profits are required to do for their shareholders. However, today’s supporters want regular updates on the impact of their contributions, and they want it bite-sized, not bumper-sized.

The good news is, digital lets you do this easily, with much more bang for your buck than the big annual report budget. And by regularly sharing the successes that donor support makes possible, you’re building an incredibly valuable asset - an engaged and loyal community that loves supporting your work.

With regular updates (quarterly, ideally monthly) you’re giving your supporters hope and positivity in a world that bombards them to the point of numbness with negative news. You’re building trust and stronger connections through greater transparency. And you’re constantly reminding them why they chose to support you, over the many thousands of other causes who are targeting them for donations.

And by all means take the opportunity to mark the EOFY, as PetRescue’s End of Furry Year Report did in 2018, to celebrate your biggest wins and re-engage your supporters with your Google-scale dreams to bring positive change.

Across a new series of Caboodle blog posts, we’ll be sharing some key steps and ideas to help you kick-start your year-round impact communications strategy, starting with identifying the metrics that really matter to your cause and motivate your supporters.

Find out more about our charity and fundraising copywriting experience, or contact our freelance copywriters to discuss the messaging and strategy for your impact communications.