A challenge facing every United Way is how to share with donors the impact of their contribution to United Way. When a United Way funds many programs that address a variety of issues, there is rarely a simple way to communicate impact. At a basic level, some United Ways just list the amount of funding each partner agency or funded program receives, while other United Ways will list all of the outcome measures for each funded program, which can overwhelm a donor. One United Way that has found a great way to communicate impact at a simple level, and then with more detail, is United Way of Siouxland (Sioux City, Iowa). They have a simple graphic on their Web site under the headline “Where Your Dollars Go” that outlines their community impact:
This graphic includes basic results for their efforts in education, income, and health, such as: “8% average increase in 4th grade reading proficiency” or “4% reported decrease in local youth being bullied.” In addition to these basic statistics, a donor can also click for more detailed results in the areas of education, income, and health, which opens a PDF document, like this one for education (this is the first of two pages):
First, they are offering the donor several levels of detail. The Web page provides basic statistics in a simple manner with eye-catching graphics. For some donors, these graphics and statistics will provide them with enough information to know that their contribution to United Way of Siouxland is being put to good use. But, for those donors who want to know more, it is easy to click on the link and get more detailed information from the PDF. This provides donors a choice about how much information they want to know about the impact of their contribution.
Second, this information is found on their Web site under Community Impact with the title “Where Your Dollars Go.” Although this seems very basic, there are a lot of United Ways that make it difficult for donors to find out where their dollars go. On some United Way Web sites, this information is buried under Partner Agencies, and on others it is buried under a tab called Education, Income, or Health. By naming the page Where Your Dollars Go and putting it on their Web site menu as “Where Your Dollars Go,” it is relatively easy for a donor to find.
Third, the PDF with more detailed information includes not only statistics about their educational issues, but information about the actions being taken to address the issues. There are results from their work with Imagination Library and for their mentoring programs. (Be sure to download the PDF as some of this information is on the second page). Finally, the PDF includes a story about a student named Carolina and how the tutoring staff at a local partner agency worked with her to gain confidence in school and improve her grades. This story, in combination with statistics and results, is a powerful explanation of the impact of a donor’s contribution in the area of education.
There is not one right way to communicate impact to donors, but offering donors several levels of information will appeal to many donors. United Way of Siouxland has used a simple Web page presentation coupled with a series of more detailed PDF documents to provide their donors with information about where their dollars go. The next time your United Way is struggling with how to effectively communicate impact, consider what United Way of Siouxland has done and give them some choices. United Way of Siouxland, you are Doing It Right!