It's the Perfect Time to Tell Your Story!
Updated: Feb 2
The New Year is a natural time for reflection and planning. You and your organization have been working hard throughout 2018 to accomplish great things. Your board and donors have been dedicated throughout the year to cultivate new friends and raise funds.
Isn't this a great time to share your accomplishments?
Annual reports have their place, especially for larger organizations. But let's be honest - do your constituents really read it? Probably not. You will likely have more impact through a focused and well-timed Report to the Community that can be designed in-house, then emailed and mailed (yes, both!!) to your donors along with a short and warm thank you note.
You may be surprised at how many donors, board members and volunteers read it and comment.
There is never a better time than now to remind your supporters of what your organization has achieved during the previous year.
Here are a few tips on what should be included.
Tell a Story
We all know that what people remember most is a personal story. And you probably have dozens of personal and meaningful ways that your organization has made a difference.
Find one or two emotional anecdotes to share, real-life stories and achievements that describe how lives have been changed or the world made better through your organization. By personalizing your mission, you will connect the reader emotionally to your cause. And that's what they'll remember most. Not numbers.
Speak directly to your donors. Approach things from the donor's point of view, not yours. Your story should go beyond the cause, it should focus on how your donors and board members made a difference.
Make the report about the impact of your supporters, not about you.
Facts and Figures
To establish credibility, you must of course share credible measures of need, success and outcomes. But you must avoid temptation: keep it simple!
We are all awash with numbers, excel spreadsheets, pie-charts, comparisons, and measurements which must be waded through, and then possibly ignored.
How you communicate makes a difference.
So PLEASE don't do this . . . . .
Instead do this!
Pick a few items which clearly show your success, which are naturally meaningful, and which have IMPACT!
Select those facts that are likely to be memorable and possibly even repeated.
Your long-term impact will be far greater than a jumble of facts more suitable for a committee meeting.
Share key facts as if you only had 30 seconds to make your case. You probably only do!
Remember that this is all about saying thank you, thank you, thank you. But you should express gratitude in a way that is absolutely specific to your organization and mission.
Carefully read what you wrote to show gratitude. If your thanks could be "plug and play" for any organization, then start over. This should be YOUR thank you, completely customized to your organization.
Avoid long, drawn-out thank you messages from the CEO or Executive Director. Instead, consider a powerful testimonial expressing thanks; it will be more emotional and meaningful. Again, this is not about you, it's not even about your organization, it's about how your donor perceives and relates to your organization and the people it serves!
Highlight a Great Accomplishment
What did your organization accomplish in 2018 that is especially meaningful, and perhaps a symbol of what is to come in 2019? Express your pride in this special achievement and describe how it will set the stage for an even greater new year.
And make sure to acknowledge that it was made possible through the generosity and hard work of your board members, supporters, and other leaders.
Do not forget to invite interaction!
Make sure to warmly invite the reader to visit, call and write. Ask for comments and advice, and offer to answer questions. And not just a polite "if you have any questions . . ". How about "I'd love to hear from you, please call or write me at my personal email or number, ....". Make the offer real.
Send the report by email, but also by mail. Your report is important, and worthy of the effort. Your supporters may get it twice, and perhaps only read it once. Increase your odds of success. Just because YOU read your emails, doesn't mean they do.
Finally, place the report on your website and make sure that telephone numbers and emails are prominently displayed, correct, and actually working. Test what happens when someone writes or calls. You may be surprised (and sometimes upset) at what you learn.
2019 Report to the Community
It is a new year - time to celebrate your past success and prepare to do even more in 2019. Now is your chance to communicate what you've done during the past year, and foreshadow where you are going.
Do not hesitate, don't overcomplicate,
and most of all do it now to pave the way to success in 2019!