Major Donor Game Plan: Report

Bang for the Buck: Report How You Used Your Donors’ Money

Major Donor Game Plan has been sold and distributed far and wide – in the USA, Canada, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, the UK, China, and Australia. In it I simplified, “Moves Management” into 6 R’s: (1) Research, (2) Relationship, (3) Request, (4) Recognition, (5) Recruitment and (6) Report.

In our information age, it should be easy to honor our ministry partners by reporting how we invested their money to change lives. They deserve to know what difference their contributions made for eternity. It sounds simple, but why does it seem difficult to accomplish? Here are a few tips for better donor accountability.

Be Genuine 
Make your impact report easily accessible. Donors shouldn’t have to search your annual report or some other document to uncover your annual, capital, and endowment campaign results. Make it personal! You’ve already thanked them for their gift (Recognize), now use a personal donor touch to report back the great things they accomplished. Donors love “bang for the buck.” Share specific results: lives changed, new programs, new buildings, new opportunities. You don’t report just to receive another gift, but if you report well you will very likely set the table for their next gift. If you don’t report well, you might not see another gift.

Focus on What God is Accomplishing
In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the landowner summoned his stewards to account for how they invested his money. Reporting to donors is an exercise in accountability as you share how you managed the resources entrusted to your care. Your organization must demonstrate financial integrity. Giving a donor update should have a different feel. Donor reports are more than numbers. Ultimately, it’s not just about what the donors gift accomplished, or even how you used the gift, your report should focus on what God is accomplishing in your ministry. Make certain your donor update/report reflects all the praise to God. When Paul and Silas returned from their first missionary journey, “they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). That’s a great pattern for us.

Praise and Prayer
Too often our fundraising plans focus on how the donor can help our ministry and not how our ministry can help the donor. We see the gift as a one-way transaction from their DAF, wire transfer, or checkbook to our budget, but that is a shortsighted perspective. Praise your ministry partners. Say thanks for their investment in your ministry. Paul reminds us that the receiver should overflow with thanksgiving, rejoicing, and offering prayers for those who gave. When you report, thank your donors, share your prayer requests, and ask for theirs.

It’s a Two-Way Street
Fundraising is built on solid relationships. Reporting helps you drill deeper with your ministry partners. Some ministries act like a freshman in college, they only call home when they are out of cash. Don’t be that organization. Love your donors by reporting the eternal difference their generous gifts are making in your organization. Share stories of evangelism, discipleship, mercy ministries, education, homeless impact, children, food, clothing, and shelter. There’s a story behind each of those ministries waiting to be shared. The miracle of a changed life is the greatest story to report.

Solomon said it best, “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Prov. 25:25). What cup of cold water will you share with your key donors this week?


About the Author: Pat McLaughlin

President/Founder – Pat started The Timothy Group in 1990 to serve Christian ministries as they raise money to advance their missions. TTG has assisted more 1,800 Christian organizations around the world with capital, annual, and endowment campaigns. More than 25,000 of Pat’s books, Major Donor Game Plan, The C Factor: The Common Cure for your Capital Campaign Conundrums, and Haggai & Friends have helped fundraisers understand the art and science of major donor engagement. Pat makes more than one hundred major donor visits annually and provides counsel to multiple capital campaigns.

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