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The Best Donor Impact Reports and Communications We've Seen Lately

By Angie Joens

At the DRG Group, one of our goals each year is to learn something new. We do this in a variety of ways—reading or rereading great books, articles, and blogs (ahem) or attending a webinar, conference, or lecture.

I needed a little motivation to get me fired up this year, so I pulled out one of our group's faves—Donor-Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burk. The book is all about putting the donor at the center of how we do our work. She has amazing data from interviewing donors all over North America about what they want and expect from their charities. The one that really stood out to me is that 67% or nearly two-thirds of all donors would give again if they knew their gift was used as intended and that it had an impact.

That statistic alone should be enough to motivate us to expand our impact reporting. But if you are like many in our profession, that idea can seem daunting. What to send and to whom and when? How do we create captivating content? Well, never fear, dear readers—we've got you covered. We combed through hundreds of samples of impact reports and selected some of the best and most interesting to highlight for you. We hope this is the inspiration you need to get started:

Student Conservation Association

Check out this excellent impact report from the Student Conservation Association. They have a photo of a student who, thanks to donors, gets an opportunity to get hands-on experience with conservation projects. This photo of Angie is fantastic, and they also include a bio on her as well as her story in her own words. They did this for several students and sent them out to donors—Awesome!

Here is another excellent example of an impact report from the Student Conservation Association— it is a postcard thanking and celebrating 60 years of support and 100,000 members. Simple, beautiful, and effective!

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

We're suckers for infographics, statistics, and great photos— adding in an extra note of thanks from the Dean and we have a winner! Love the line, "Your Gifts Made It Happen." It is all there and can be sent to every donor, no matter the size of their giving.

Good Neighbors Canada

We also love this one from the Good Neighbors in Canada—an international organization providing relief aid and implementing inclusive community-based development projects. Their impact report is bright and cheery and, most important, effective. It has all the information donors need to see what they accomplished in a year and how the funds were utilized. Beautiful!

Transplant House of Cleveland

Check out this beautiful impact report from the Transplant House of Cleveland—it is a home away from home for patients and their families undergoing and recovering from organ transplants. It's affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic, and I love that it uses key stats, but it's also web friendly and can be viewed in its entirety here. Please check it out because there are so many right things about this report it is hard to show them all.

Marine Mammal Center

Here is another really effective impact report from the Marine Mammal Center in California. The image on the front is enough to pull you in to read more—am I right?! You can check out the entire report on their website.

UC Davis Children's Hospital

Here is a nice one from UC Davis Children’s Hospital. We do a toy drive every year around the holidays for our patients and it's one of my favorite things to support. I loved this thank you email, and knowing that the kids that were hospitalized over the holidays received a present. So sweet and effective!


Here is another great example of impact and gratitude. Somehow even we didn't know there was a World Gratitude Day—did you? It's designed to bring the whole world together on a single day (September 21st) to be thankful. PanCAN—an organization that improves the lives of anyone impacted by pancreatic cancer—sent out a note of gratitude on this day to all their donors and included a short video. Brilliant! (You can bet the DRG Group will be celebrating this day in 2023!)

University of New Mexico

OK, University of New Mexico—we see you! We love this impact piece created just for the faculty and staff who contributed to the University. Our employees can be some of our best donors, so what a neat way to thank them and let them know 860 donors donated nearly $1 million!

Advocate Aurora Health Foundation

Another excellent impact report is from Advocate Aurora Health Foundation, celebrating the healthcare heroes, patients, and donors for stepping up to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Our favorite line from the report is, "We'll always remember your spirit of giving during the pandemic. We're so grateful to have donors like you alongside us on this journey – before and throughout this crisis." We don't know about you, but if we were one of these donors, we would feel valued and honored to have made that kind of difference.

Charity: Water

Here is an email from Charity: Water giving us a timeline for what happens with our money after we donate to them. And the line “we can’t wait to report back and show you the impact your donation made for those in need"?! So wonderful – very hands on and they even provide their donors with an email contact in case they have questions. And it is not fancy – just a simple, and effective, timeline.