The Art of Accountability

Original article by Nathalie Côté, in collaboration with
November 14, 2018


Donors refuse to sign a cheque without knowing how their donations will be used and what difference their money will make. What are the best strategies to go about informing them?


Cultivating an online presence to communicate about positive outcomes and share success stories is essential. “We can no longer be satisfied with communicating with donors once a year,” says Danielle Poulin, founder of Caméo Consultation and treasurer of l’Association des professionnels en gestion philanthropique (APGP).
What should organizations publish? “Forget about photos of people holding giant cheques, donors aren’t interested in seeing that,” said Kim Fuller, founder of Phil Communications. Instead, she suggests posting more dynamic photo montages, videos of the organization’s work, infographics, etc.



Everyone loves a feel-good story, and donors are no exception. “Some things cannot be quantified, like improving quality of life for example,” says Fuller. To illustrate how donations have changed lives, it’s important to share beneficiary testimonials. These types of stories can also include profiles about top donors or volunteers.
Poulin recommends calling on all stakeholders to find the most influential success stories. “You have to mobilize the whole organization to seek out testimonials that best illustrate the organization’s impact on people’s lives,” she says. Fundraising managers are often unaware of these stories.”



Testimonials aren’t the only way to demonstrate a donation’s impact. “We need to calculate what donation amounts are worth concretely” says Fuller. For example, a hundred dollars is worth three hours of respite to a caregiver. Donors can then see that every donation has an impact, no matter the amount.”
Poulin notes that organizations should determine and communicate the impact donations have. “Donors don’t just want to provide beds for homeless people, they want to end homelessness,” she says. They want to tackle the causes, not just the effects. According to Poulin, most charities in Quebec are just beginning this process.



Including them in the decision-making process is also an excellent way to engage with donors. “I often recommend asking them for feedback to make sure the organization is on the right track,” says Fuller. It’s also rewarding for donors become involved.”

Charities can also invite major funders to join the board of directors. “Donors don’t want to be treated like ATMs,” says Poulin. They are intelligent. If they can afford to support us, it’s because they have been successful. We must take advantage of their expertise.”