Posts in Actions
Who Cares?

Your donors do NOT care about . . .

  •  The number of partner agencies that receive funding from your United Way
  •  The number of programs funded by your United Way
  •  The number of hours spent by volunteers to determine your allocations
  •  Your number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers
  •  The number of priority areas of investment or targeted goals at your United Way
  •  How many of your workplace campaigns had 100% participation
  •  Your total number of donors and the average amount contributed by your donors
  •  How much donors designated to other nonprofit organizations
  •  How many people used your volunteer connection website
  •  The number of people in your leadership giving society and how much they contributed
  •  How much money was invested in each of your priority areas of investment
  •  How much money was raised at your social fundraising event
  •  The amounts contributed by your top 20 workplace campaigns
  •  How many people are on your board of directors
  •  Your campaign goal

. . . because none of these things tell a donor why they should give to your United Way.

Your donors care about . . .

1)  What issue does your United Way address?

2)  What is your United Way doing to impact your issue?

3)  What results has your United Way achieved to impact your issue?

. . . because when your donors know these three things, they will know why they should contribute to your United Way. Learn more about the power of one issue and one bold goal to attract donors by becoming issue-focused on our website here.

Successful United Ways tell donors what they want and need to know.

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Make It Awesome! A Day Dedicated to Fundraising

Is your United Way involved in a day dedicated to raising money for your organization?

More United Ways each year are participating in #GivingTuesday, Red Nose Day, or a citywide or statewide fundraising day, like Give to the Max Day, in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (Chisholm, MN) is involved. However, while more United Ways are getting involved in some sort of fundraising day, most United Ways are not communicating about a specific issue the funds being raised will address, or how the donations will make a difference on a specific issue in the community.

Let’s take a look at the fundraising day in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is participating:

Today is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, which is an annual 24-hour event in which Minnesotans are encouraged to donate to causes and organizations in Minnesota on the GiveMN Web site. Donors were able to schedule their Give to the Max Day donations beginning on November 1st, but the cut-off for donating is the end of the day today, November 17th.

There are prizes and leaderboards for Give to the Max Day on the GiveMN Web site. The organizations that raise the most funds appear on the leaderboards – Overall Leaderboard, Medium Nonprofits Leaderboard, Small Nonprofits Leaderboard, and Colleges & Universities Leaderboard – and the top five organizations on each leaderboard receive prize grants. "Golden Tickets" of $1,000 each and other prizes are awarded throughout the day, as well as two "Super-Sized Golden Tickets" of $10,000 each.

United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing a good job of communicating about their direct services, such as Buddy Backpacks, Imagination Library, Bright Beginnings, Good360, Smiles Across Minnesota, and United for Veterans. They are also doing a good job of communicating results that will be achieved if money is donated to each of these programs.

If you are involved in a fundraising day like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, we would encourage you to communicate about your specific issue(s), the actions you are taking to address your issue(s) (for example: your direct services), and the results you are achieving in the community.

Check out these three ideas to take a fundraising day to the next level and Make It Awesome!

How to Take a Fundraising Day and Make It Awesome!

  1. Only communicate about one or two issues. Many United Ways communicate about multiple issues within categories, such as education, income, and health. If you are not yet issue-focused, we would encourage you to focus on communicating about one or two issues your United Way is addressing in the community. You do not want to overwhelm your community with multiple issues you are addressing and you want to be able to communicate a concise message that people will remember, especially if you are competing for dollars with other local nonprofits. When people are searching for a specific cause/issue on these Web sites, you want them to find your United Way and understand what your United Way does if they visit your fundraising page.
  2. Do not talk about categories or processes. You have limited space and time to get your message across, and you do not want to waste it talking about multiple categories or processes. Potential donors want to know about the issue(s) your United Way is focused on addressing in the community, and categories are not issues. Potential donors do not care about processes or how you do things at your United Way – they are concerned about how their donation will make an impact on a specific issue.
  3. Communicate clear actions and results. Take a look at United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s "Find a Cause" page here. They are doing a great job of communicating about their direct services, which are the actions they are taking, as well as the results that will be achieved if they receive donations toward those programs/causes (If you click on each program/cause on the "Find a Cause" page, it opens up a new Web page with additional information about United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s actions and results). We would encourage you to communicate actions and results like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing, but only the actions and results for the one or two issue(s) you decide to highlight.

By following these three simple ideas, you will take your involvement in a fundraising day and Make It Awesome!

If you would like us to review something your United Way is doing and Make It Awesome! send me an e-mail at As your Issue-Focused Consultant, I will share great tips and ideas with you about how to enhance what you are doing, and will provide you with the information your donors and community want to know, based on our research and experience in working with United Ways.

Doing It Right! United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland)

One of the challenges facing every United Way is how to effectively communicate their community impact. Donors want to know how their contribution is making a difference and all too often United Ways overwhelm donors by trying to explain every last thing United Way does in the community. One United Way that has figured out how to explain their community impact in a simple, one-page progress report is United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland).

On their Health Programs: Access to Healthy Food Initiative progress report, United Way of Central Maryland includes their goal of increasing access to healthy food by at least 1.5 million pounds each year, how they are addressing the issue of food insecurity, their progress to date, facts and statistics about food insecurity in central Maryland, and a story about someone facing food insecurity.

What are they doing right?

First, their progress report covers the three things every donor wants to know: what issue United Way is addressing, what actions United Way is taking to address the issue, and what results have been achieved by United Way. Our research with donors has found over and over again that donors want to know the issue, actions, and results, and United Way of Central Maryland includes all three. It is clear that United Way of Central Maryland is tackling the issue of food insecurity from the headline at the top of the page: “Changing the odds for food insecure families.” They share their definition of food insecurity as “the lack of available nutritious and safe food. They also share how food insecurity affects the ability to learn, slows cognitive development and increases susceptibility to illness.

Second, the actions they are taking to address the issue of food insecurity are clearly listed, including: grow more food, improve distribution, and increase access and affordability. Each of these three actions are described in detail on the back of the report and United Way of Central Maryland explains what they are doing in each area. United Way of Central Maryland also makes it clear that their efforts are a collaboration with a variety of community organizations, both funded and unfunded.

Third, the results are clear: “Increased access to healthy food in central Maryland by 8.3 million pounds/6.9 million meals within the first 39 months of the initiative.” In addition to pounds of food and meals, they also include information about food drives and Thanksgiving meals. Finally, there is a story about Shauna’s family and how she can now feed her three children nutritious foods as a result of United Way of Central Maryland’s Access to Healthy Food Initiative.

Communicating community impact does not need to be long and complicated. A simple progress report like this one from United Way of Central Maryland is more than adequate to inform donors. By providing basic information about food insecurity and the results of donors’ contributions, United Way of Central Maryland demonstrates an effective way for communicating community impact. The next time you are looking to prepare a progress report on your community impact, take a look at how United Way of Central Maryland has communicated their community impact addressing the issue of food insecurity. United Way of Central Maryland, you are Doing It Right!