We all know we should be collecting testimonials from our Members, board members, constituents, volunteers and those affected by our organization's work. They're the stuff of fundraising gold, able to leverage gifts more effectively than any facts and figures can ever do.
But how do you collect them?
Nonprofit professionals work long, hard, often thankless hours. By the time you answer that 50th phone call or head off to that Friday night Member event, it's hard to remember what your own name is, much less to muster the energy to actively chase down testimonials.
All you have to do is listen. People want to tell you their stories. They want you to know why they support your organization and what your cause has meant to them. Give them the space to say what they want to say, and they'll give you the gift of a shining testimonial. (You might have to take notes, though!)
Ask the Right Questions
Some people need more guidance than others. If you find yourself with someone who has a story to tell but doesn't know how to tell it, ask them a few questions to get them thinking in the right direction:
- How did you become involved with this organization/issue?
- Why are you passionate about it?
- What have you seen personally that drives you to support this organization/issue?
- What does the organization's work accomplish? For you? For your community? For the world?
- What would the world look like if this problem was solved?
- What are the barriers to solving it?
Any one of these questions can get people's testimonial juices flowing -- and give you oodles of great stuff to use in your fundraising.
Get Everyone In On the Act
Testimonials are great for fundraising, but collecting them is not just the job of fundraisers. In fact, the best testimonials often come from program staff as they're out in the field because they're the ones who see firsthand what needs to be done and how your organization is progressing.
All staff members -- program staff, executive staff, board members, interns and volunteers -- should be on the lookout for good testimonials.
Make it easy for everyone with these ideas:
- Create a special Testimonials folder on the file server
- Put a box on the conference table for collecting handwritten stories
- Make a My Story form donors and friends can fill out at events
- Learn how to use the audio recording feature on your smartphone so you can capture stories in the moment
- Give a prize for "Testimonial of the Month"
- Start every staff meeting off by reading one or two of the stories you've collected to inspire and inform
How does your organization collect and share testimonials? I'd love to hear your suggestions!