In a classic scene of late 90s cinema, Cuba Gooding Jr commands Tom Cruise – the film’s eponymous hero Jerry Maguire, a sports agent desperately trying to save his last remaining client – to ‘show me the money’. In other words, Gooding Jr’s character needs cold, hard proof of his agent’s commitment.
It is perhaps a truism of our time, but accountability has never been more important to the charity sector, and in general. There is a growing appetite amongst the general public to, proverbially speaking, be shown the money.
Our most recent research with the general public confirmed, learning about the impact a charity has is hugely influential in a donor’s decision to support a charity. This ranked as the second most important factor in encouraging people to give to charity (after a desire for clarity about how donations are being spent), with 49% of the general public saying they are more likely to give if they learn about the impact of a charity’s work.
40% of the general public are also encouraged to give by case studies/stories about individuals who have been helped. Interestingly, this is higher among women than men (39% compared to 26%) but equally important to different age groups.
Communicating impact is not just good practice, it’s also an excellent opportunity to engage donors and potential donors in your work. Clear, verifiable and effective communications around impact can be very persuasive in bringing home a charity’s purpose and value to supporters.
This could be about the impact of donations, frontline staff or even prominent figures associated with the charity. Crucially, however, it needs to be compelling. Communicating impact isn’t just about sharing numbers, it’s about bringing those numbers to life.
The good news is, many charities are already doing this very successfully. Here, we look at four great examples of how to share impact:
Barnardo’s Scotland Pinned Tweet
Twitter is an ideal medium for promoting impact. Of course, there’s always the issue of a singular Tweet disappearing into the ether, but why not make impact your pinned Tweet like Barnardo’s Scotland (see below). The first thing anyone who visits your Twitter profile will see is the difference their donation can make. Barnardo’s Scotland update this Tweet monthly, and the example here skilfully reiterates the charity’s core mission – making change for children – alongside a handy infographic. It’s clear, visual and – importantly –sharable!
Videos are a great way to visually communicate impact. Whilst stats and infographics are important for giving a quick topline, video evidence brings a story to life. In their interactive annual report from 2016, WaterAid ran a video that depicts Bebe (aged approx. 76), who has never had access to clean water in her life, celebrating as she turns on the new village tap. It is a great example of how to convey impact in a compelling and entertaining way, and ensuring the reader/ viewer gets the message. The video plays automatically, which immediately draws you in. There is no chance that the impact can be skimmed over, like in a wordy report. Our research shows that people really respond to positively activating stories such as Bebe’s, and they are more likely to create a lasting impact on the viewer as well as a good feeling about your charity.
Mind Annual Report - http://report.mind.org.uk/2013/
As in the above example, a charity’s annual report is a great place to share impact, but this can in many cases represent a laborious read. Like WaterAid’s 2016 annual report, Mind’s 2012/13 annual review featured lots of interactive content, including illustrated graphs and infographics which played as the reader scrolled down the page. The result was a very user-friendly and engaging platform from which to talk about their work.
The Outward Bound Trust – Lasting Impact report
Perhaps the most in-depth route, a specially-commissioned impact report can be a great resource for people wanting to know in more detail the difference your work makes. We recently worked together with The Outward Bound Trust on a research project to support their ‘Lasting Impact’ report, published earlier this year. The report is based on extensive research and provides insight, personal testimonies and number crunching which demonstrate the value of the Trust’s work to the outside world.
From the topline to the more in-depth, make sure the public knows what a donation to you can do.
If you have any questions about how research could help you to communicate your impact, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
 Charity Awareness Monitor (CAM), August 2017