Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 Views: 8609

GreatNonprofits’ Social Impact Statement

The Social Impact Statement – piloted by GreatNonprofits and the Pittsburgh Foundation provides transparency to donors and a direct link between their gift and the positive change affected in the community.

It’s a fact we face daily in the nonprofit sector: philanthropy has been relatively stagnant for years. Giving has only been growing at two percent, year over year.

What’s the cause of this lack of real growth and more importantly, how can we change it? There is a definite lack of tools in the sector for connecting donors to their direct impact. Donors want to know the on-the-ground difference that their money is making. Foundations, and their grantees, face a difficult task in communicating this impact to donors. And while overall philanthropy is sluggish, community-based giving is growing. So we know that donors want that kind of local connection—they want to know how their dollars are changing their communities. 

Keeping this in mind, GreatNonprofits is developing tools for community foundations and nonprofits to show donors their direct social impact. This past year, GreatNonprofits piloted one of those tools — the Social Impact Statement with the Pittsburgh Foundation. The goal was to test the theory that awareness about the direct impact of one’s giving should positively influence future charitable giving. The Social Impact Statement provides transparency to donors—a direct link between their gift and the positive change it affected in their community. 

Together, we provided highly personalized email statements to nearly 10,000 donors. Each donor received specific information about what impact each of their donations had, photos, reviews and recommendations for other, similar local nonprofits. We reached out to each nonprofit to provide an accurate picture for each donor. We wanted to know, what does a $50 dollar donation go to, for example. Each donation was linked with a specific action taken by the nonprofit.

“The Social Impact Statement can solve a critical need in the nonprofit sector to engage donors…by providing valuable information on how donations made a difference” – Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits

The Nonprofit of the future is going to need to be able to connect the dots for their donors and the Social Impact Statement is the way to help the sector move toward emotionally engaged giving.

For instance, a $50 donation to Network of Hope provided one week’s worth of food, purchased at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, to supply the Braddock Men’s Recovery Home. 

What did we learn? Donors loved it! The emails had an open rate of nearly fifty percent and nearly fifty percent of respondents gave the statement a 10/10 rating. Plus, by using an algorithm based on actual donation patterns, the statement generated recommendations of 3 additional nonprofits per donor. Of the full list, we were able to generate recommendations for all but 27 donors. We heard that donors were excited to see their personal impact. Making the donation impact digestible to donors can lead to more donors giving more money, while rewarding the most high-impact community nonprofits. 

The nonprofit of the future is going to need to be able to connect these dots for their donors and the Social Impact Statement is one way to help the sector continue to move in this direction of increased transparency and emotionally-engaged community giving. 

Click here to read more on the Social Impact Statement

What do you think? Is this something that your foundation would be interested in using to communicate to donors? To learn more about getting involved, contact Perla Ni at!