How You Can Help Donors Better Understand You

DMANF’s new Nonprofit Dashboard promotes transparency, provides information

By Tom Harrison

Nonprofit organizations make our world better, every day, through the unbeatable combination of strong programs and strong fundraising. It’s virtually impossible to make a meaningful, long-term difference without both.

Those of us on the fundraising side of the equation know what it takes to build a great fundraising program.

But that knowledge and understanding is not ­always translated well from our sector to the good people who support us. And many times, public perception comes down to the way charity watchdogs evaluate our effectiveness.

It’s time for us to help donors more accurately evaluate nonprofits as they choose organizations to support.

Let’s provide a better way to  measure a nonprofit’s effectiveness through an evaluation tool that’s more meaningful than the number of overhead stars from a Charity Connoisseur, and easier for donors and reporters than “come volunteer and see for yourself.”

Enter the DMA Nonprofit Federation
Last year, DMANFOpens in a new window created a Best Practices Code of Ethics for direct-response fundraisingOpens in a new window. It’s a smart way to hold our work to the highest standards of integrity.

This year, the DMANF completed a two-year exercise to provide a standardized tool that nonprofits can use to help donors understand what they do and to answer the question of effectiveness.

The new Nonprofit DashboardOpens in a new window (view the DMA Nonprofit Dashboardimage at right) allows donors to see the important metrics that indicate
a healthy nonprofit, rather than reducing all of them to one or two simplistic measurements (e.g., overhead). Are you purposely investing to expand your donor file? What are your annual program deliverables? Are you growing year over year? Perhaps most importantly, the Nonprofit Dashboard takes the long view (at least a year), rather than judging a single campaign to assess fundraising effectiveness.

All DMANF members are being asked to complete the new Nonprofit Dashboard and post it on their websites.

How it helps
The intent is to promote transparency and to give donors pertinent information and metrics about your organization in an easy-to-understand format, so donors can clearly understand what you are accomplishing and at what cost. It will even include a link to the GuideStarOpens in a new window-hosted Charting ImpactOpens in a new window.

This puts the knowledge and the power in your — and your donors’ — hands.

An added bonus is that next time a donor, reporter or foundation questions your fundraising costs or a watchdog score, you can reply with confidence, “Our organization adheres to the DMA Nonprofit Federation ethical standards, and we publish an annual dashboard showing exactly what we do and how we measure it. Would you like me to send these to you? Then if you have any questions, I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.”

Instead of allowing others to frame the issue, you can use established industry guidelines to explain
your work.


To view the article in Fundraising Success, please click here