Warning: You're Losing Money by Not Using Feedback in your Fundraising

Blake Kohler

Using feedback from your clients, volunteers, and staff is an often overlooked way to enhance your fundraising process.

Every nonprofit is concerned about raising money and should look for every advantage to improve that complex process. The simple truth is fundraising can be challenging.

You have to handle many things as a nonprofit to get to the point where you can offer services to the people you serve. Convincing people to give to your cause year after year can be a real challenge. Nonprofits exist in one of the most competitive landscapes possible. You are asking people to donate money instead of spending it on themselves and donate to your cause instead of some other worthy endeavor.

Improving your fundraising process can reap profound benefits and help you spend more time improving your core services and less time worrying about how to keep the lights on. Using feedback from your clients, volunteers, and staff is an often overlooked way to enhance your fundraising process.


Feedback can make fundraising easy(ier)

Most nonprofit executives will tell you the stories are the most powerful tools one has when raising money for a cause. Stories move us and motivate us. They help us understand and empathize on a level that few other ways can reach.

Feedback from your clients, volunteers, and staff are simply stories being told in their own words and often with different types of imagery. A five-star review of your services is a story told as simply as possible.

Feedback can provide ample opportunities for you to identify compelling and simple stories for your donors.

Feedback is straight from the source

One of the most potent parts of using feedback to help drive fundraising is the unfiltered view of your organization that it provides. This effect can be seen on every Amazon listing as the reviews section drives sales via an unfiltered view into other consumers' opinions.

These reviews give people confidence that what is being advertised is, in reality, what they will receive. Your best donors will often have some interactions with your organization outside of writing a check, such as volunteering. However, reading feedback can help give other donors the social proof they need to feel confident donating.

Feedback, when positive, reinforces what is working.

Most groups intuitively understand how positive feedback can help drive fundraising. Bragging about the things you do best is almost always comfortable. Using positive feedback shows the value your organization brings to individuals in your community using their own words.

Positive feedback also shows how well you utilized past donations by highlighting significant investments and the positive feedback around those investments.

Positive feedback can also help to connect people to the human aspect of your cause. When someone shares that your programs have changed their lives or express thanks for the outstanding services, it provides a natural connection to the good that an individual's donations will accomplish.


Feedback, when negative, shows opportunities

Unlike positive feedback, the value of negative feedback is understood by organizations far less intuitively. Sharing our dirty laundry doesn't feel like something that would drive more donations.

The simple truth is that every organization has something it could improve on - we've all got dirty laundry - and negative feedback from your clients can point out issues in a more stark and direct way than you can comfortably share yourself.

Negative feedback can help highlight areas where someone's donations can make significant differences. Highlighting the negative feedback that people are sharing coupled with a plan to make improvements (with the help of a few dollars from your donors) can be a compelling drive for someone to join your fundraising efforts.

(In addition, negative feedback can help you fix issues in your organization that might be preventing groups from donating)

Connect feedback to past giving

Sharing the feedback around issues you've fundraised for can help you connect people's donations to tangible results. You are allowing people to see how they affect the day-to-day operations with their funds via the eyes of your clients, volunteers, and staff. This process can help you build consistent contributions from your donor base.

Our recommendation is to lean into feedback and incorporate it into your fundraising process. Use both positive and negative feedback to tell stories around how you are succeeding and how with the help of your donors, you can make a more dramatic difference in the future.

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