We have all done it, standing at the podium, delivering our impact report. We talk about how financially great our organization is doing. The number of people we serve. The number of meals we provide. The number of members that joined. Numbers, numbers, numbers… 

My colleague Jon Simons says it best: "numbers can be numbing."  Don't get me wrong, numbers are important, but your donors are not accountants. Donors don't give because they have money.  They give because they care.  And frankly, it is harder to care about numbers.

There is a simple transition though – moving from numbers to names. 

Whenever you find yourself reciting a number, remember to tell a story.  Place a name on that number. Quick and easy.  Recently, I was watching a college football game with those 30-second commercials for the University.  The commercial spoke how the University was working on medical research – and the ad started with numbers.

 "The human heart beats 70 times per minute, 4,200 times per hour and 100,800 times per day."

It was interesting, but wow – it did not hit me until I saw the names and faces. They transitioned so effortlessly from numbers to names, showing the faces of people waiting and hoping for a heart transplant.  Cue the tears…

You don't need to tell a life history.  You don't need to fully outline the details of their story. You simply have to put a name on that number - a face to the case.

Donors love to solve problems and they especially love to help people. By putting that face and name to your mission, you are inspiring your donors to give and allowing them the gratification of putting a name on their donation. A donor said it best to me once; "It's not impactful to me, unless I know who it will benefit. It's just the human in me."

Posted by Danny Maier
Danny Maier

Written by Danny Maier

Dan Maier offers fundraising counsel and strategic management for local and national nonprofits, YMCAs, camps, medical and social service organizations. He offers invaluable support to clients and their volunteer leadership as they look to enhance their development campaigns, prepare for crisis communications, strengthen their boards and more.

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