Published on March 7, 2014
GreatNonprofits Case Study: Social Impact Statement
2 1 The Social Impact Statement – piloted by GreatNonprofits and The Pittsburgh Foundation provides transparency to donors and a direct link between their gift and the positive change affected in the community. It’s a fact we face daily in the nonprofit sector: philanthropy has been relatively stagnant for years. Giving has only been growing at two percent, year over year. What’s the cause of this lack of real growth and more importantly, how can we change it? There is a definite lack of tools in the sector for connecting donors to their direct impact. Donors want to know the on-theground difference that their money is making. Foundations, and their grantees, face a difficult task in communicating this impact to donors. And while overall philanthropy is sluggish, community-based giving is growing. So we know that donors want that kind of local connection—they want to know how their dollars are changing their communities. Keeping this in mind, GreatNonprofits is developing tools for community foundations and nonprofits to show donors their direct social impact. This past year, GreatNonprofits piloted one of those tools -the Social Impact Statement with the Pittsburgh Foundation. The goal was to test the theory that awareness about the direct impact of one’s giving should positively influence future charitable giving. The Social Impact Statement provides transparency to donors—a direct link between their gift and the positive change it affected in their community. Together, we provided highly personalized email statements to about 17,000 donors. Each donor received specific information about what impact each of their donations had, photos, reviews and recommendations for other, similar local nonprofits. We reached out to each nonprofit to provide an accurate picture for each donor. We wanted to know, what does a $50 dollar donation go to, for example. Each donation was linked with a specific action taken by the nonprofit. 2
The Nonprofit of the future is going to need to be able to connect the dots for their donors and the Social Impact Statement is the way to help the sector move toward emotionally engaged giving. For instance, a $50 donation to Network of Hope provided one week’s worth of food, purchased at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, to supply the Braddock Men's Recovery Home. What did we learn? Donors loved it! The emails had an open rate of nearly fifty percent and nearly fifty percent of respondents gave the statement a 10/10 rating. Plus, by using an algorithm based on actual donation patterns, the statement generated recommendations of 3 additional nonprofits per donor. Of the full list, we were able to generate recommendations for all but 27 donors. We heard that donors were excited to see their personal impact. Making the donation impact digestible to donors can lead to more donors giving more money, while rewarding the most high-impact community nonprofits. The nonprofit of the future is going to need to be able to connect these dots for their donors and the Social Impact Statement is one way to help the sector continue to move in this direction of increased transparency and emotionally-engaged community giving. What do you think? Is this something that your foundation would be interested in using to communicate to donors? To learn more about getting involved, contact Perlani@greatnonprofits.org. 3
Process Overview To test the theory of impact of giving The Pittsburgh Foundation partnered with GreatNonprofits. Overall 17,000 donors were identified who gave to 700 organizations; some of which gave during the Day of Giving. To create a highly personalized email that could test future activities, we created a control group of 6.9k records that did not receive any communication and two test groups: one group of donors who gave to 1-2 organizations; another which gave to 3+ organizations. We used three primary data sources with many data inputs to make the experience and report rich. Here’s a sampling of the data set: 1. Pittsburgh Foundation Data included organization name, EIN and URL 2. GreatNonprofits data included EIN, number of reviews, star rating, featured reviews and photos 3. The Day of Giving data included the contact details, the organization’s mission statement, recent results, and what could be done with donations of different denominations. This data was amalgamated to put together a statement that was emailed to users (see following page). We received nearly a 50% open rate; 24% click through rate, and nearly 50% of the respondents gave the statement a 10/10 rating. The control group will be used in subsequent years to measure impact of the personalized experience. 4
Sample “Social Impact Statement” 5
The Social Impact Statement can solve a critical need in the nonprofit sector to engage donors…by providing valuable information on how donations made a difference Findings and Next Steps Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits Following are findings for future implementations: Initial Findings • The high poll results indicate a high level of donor satisfaction with the content • The high open rates of emails indicates that the subject line was compelling • The poll enabled us to get short-term feedback since the donation day did not happen again until October Learn More: Is a Social Impact Statement of interest to your organizations? Do you want to leverage community feedback to show impact? Then contact us today about how to get started with a Social Impact Statement. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or our founder, Perla Ni at email@example.com. 6
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