Case for Support – Paint a Picture for Your Donors Using Data

I agree when people say fundraising is more art than science. And yet, there are times in development when appealing to a donor’s analytical left brain can pay off big. Mixing an emotional appeal with facts and figures that showcase your organization’s impact on the world is a powerful combination. Here are the 3 key spots in your organization’s story where cold, hard facts can have the biggest impact:

using data for your donors

Problem Size and Scope. Imagine your organization is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity by improving the nutritional value of school lunches. Early in your pitch to donors, you could cite statistics on the percentage of 5-15 year olds who are obese in the United States and how much this percentage has grown over the past 30 years. With only two data points you have begun to illustrate for your donor the immensity of your organization’s challenge.

Client Demographics. Data can help you paint a picture of your constituents, too. For your childhood obesity organization, you could mention statistics related to ethnicity, household income, levels of parent education, and geography for the thousands of children you serve each year. Not only does this data help your donor “see” the people his gift would impact, but it also shows off your organization’s deep understanding of the populations you serve. (Check out my January post on the value of showing vs. telling with donors.)

Impact. Data that shows your organization’s impact on the community is the holy grail of all data. It’s the hardest to come by, but also the most powerful. Impact data (also known as “outcomes data”) demonstrates the change that your organization has effected in the world.

One of the tricky things about impact data is that it is often long-term data, gathered over a period of years. For example, ideally your childhood obesity organization has been tracking some metrics related to kids’ health during the years it has brought its lunch program to neighborhood schools. After 3 to 5 years, they may have powerful impact data that shows an overall decrease in kids’ body mass indexes in the schools where their healthier lunch program has been implemented. This type of impact data can be used to demonstrate that your program is working! And it gives donors a BIG boost of confidence in your organization’s strategy and approach.

Sharing data with donors doesn’t mean you should give them page after page of charts and tables. Be selective and choose only your most powerful facts to share. Since visual communication is often the most effective mode, think about info graphics. Sites like Cool Infographics and Visual Loop are good sources of inspiration for condensing data into a clear and persuasive combination of images and text.

What sort of data resonates with your donors? Share some examples!

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