It is difficult for many donors to understand what their United Way does and how their contribution makes a difference. Many United Ways thank donors effectively, but nearly all United Ways struggle to communicate the impact of a donor’s contribution. One United Way that has figured out how to communicate their impact effectively is United Way of Tarrant County (Fort Worth, Texas). When you click on the What We Do menu tab on their Web site, you will find this Web page under Education:
This page starts with a brief statement about the importance of education, followed by United Way of Tarrant County’s bold goal: 8,092 students at risk of dropping out will have graduated on time by 2020. There is a list of strategies that are being used to meet the bold goal, followed by a link to a PDF of results and a video that tells several stories about children who have succeeded academically. The first page of the two-page PDF entitled “Learn Well” is shown below:
What are they doing right?
First, they have identified their issue, their actions, and their results. On the Web page, their bold goal clearly states their issue is preventing children from dropping out and making sure they graduate on time. Donors will see the actions they are taking to address their goal, such as improving reading, and donors can watch the video about some of their results. The “Learn Well” PDF does the same thing. The bold goal is stated at the top of the page, followed by their response or the actions they are taking to address the issue. Results, such as more than 5,000 children from birth to age 5 are starting kindergarten ready to learn, are listed near the bottom of the page. Whether donors just look at the Web page, or they take the time to download the PDF, they will understand the issue, actions, and results achieved with their contribution to United Way of Tarrant County.
Second, there are statistics and stories. Statistics are important, so that donors can understand the prevalence and significance of these issues in the community. The PDF includes four statistics about dropping out and the graduation rate that will help donors understand how important it is to address these issues. Stories are a great way to make issues and results real and personal for donors. The video on the Web page shares stories of people impacted by these programs and the results achieved with donors’ contributions to United Way of Tarrant County.
Third, they have communicated their issue, actions, and results in a relatively concise and easy to understand way. There is not a lot of text on the Web page, but the text, along with the video, conveys the message very effectively without requiring a donor to invest a lot of time or effort in trying to understand what United Way of Tarrant County is doing. The PDF is only two pages, the front and back of a single sheet of paper. It is not uncommon to find United Ways that dedicate dozens of pages in their annual report to explain what they do, and do not communicate as clearly or as completely as United Way of Tarrant County does with just one sheet of paper.
It can be very difficult to share with donors how their contribution makes a difference. United Way of Tarrant County has found an efficient and effective combination of a Web page and PDF that communicates their issue, actions, and results related to preventing drop-outs and increasing the graduation rate. The next time you are faced with the challenge of telling your United Way’s story, think about how United Way of Tarrant County shared their story. United Way of Tarrant County, you are Doing It Right!