Storytelling and Statistics

by Cindi Boston-Bilotta, Vice President of Mission Advancement, Heartbeat International

You are incredible change-makers in your community. You plan, follow through, inspire, sacrifice, lead, and come alongside women who will make life-and-death decisions. Their lives are changed forever because of what you do!

But how do you communicate success to your financial partners?

A 2022 Stanford Social Innovation Review study gave a comparable view with metrics shifting donations from charities with only a good pitch to those with supportive results. When combined with a good pitch, including “features” of an organization, metrics create a winning combination. More than 70 percent of surveyed donors said they care about metrics.

Interesting! Donors desire an emotional connection to their giving and want data-driven investment. The goal of donor care is to respect the interests and passions of donors. But how do you communicate the success so your financial sponsors so they can grasp the storyline in statistics? We show change through storytelling and relevant metrics to show return on investment.

When storytelling and statistics are combined in publications, articles, thank you notes, public relations, and conversations, your donors will grow a stronger connection to your organization as you show evidence that their investment makes a difference.

With a healthy donor care plan, several critical components must be in place to create strong donor relationships and trust. The Donor Loyalty Cycle, created by Veritus Group, gives us a glimpse:

Donor Cycle

In every stage, metrics complement storytelling to assist a donor in understanding the mission and the donor’s role as a change-maker. Here are a few examples:

Create Awareness – share the need – use community health department data to prove the need of the population you serve – the number of pregnant women, an estimate of women using chemical abortion, the long-term impacts of fatherless families or under-educated single moms, etc. Prove the need and then show how your programs will impact for the better.

Ask – match the interests of your donors with your programs. After showing the need, use data to predict your impact if you were to start or upgrade a program. Inspire a donor by matching their interests to a program growth goal. If they love the Ultrasound program, give stats showing a greater rate of life choices after an ultrasound. Then, share a moving story to bring in the emotion of a powerful story.

Acknowledge and Affirm – contact financial partners early and often about how their investment changes lives. Donors want to know how metrics reveal a conversion for your clients. Statistics open the eyes of a donor to the relevance of their gifts. They can see the impact on your clients. They are helping create a hopeful future for families.

Report – communication reminds sponsors that their monthly gift, quarterly pledge, or donation to a specific need or program will give them a sense of purpose and create an in-depth view of what their funds have accomplished through quotes, stories, pictures, and return on investment.

Motivate – inspire so donors are moved and consider giving again. They will see the impact of their gift and, as you give them new opportunities to provide again, will likely re-invest in your programs.

A written and verbal report can balance emotional stories, quotes, and incredible outcomes. Recently, a Heartbeat donor cried as he related to the desperation of a client's story. The stories and stats reminded him that we are creating safer spaces for moms, dads, and babies. We are preserving the branches of family trees. We share the love of Christ on behalf of donors who may never meet the clients they help. Change, shown through stories and statistics, inspires and motivates our generous donors.

Stories and statistics are a dynamic duo used to create interest, develop loyalty, and inform our financial sponsors that they are vital to our mission.