Through a multitude of research conducted by the likes of Roger Craver and Penelope Burk among others, we know that a key to donor retention is reporting back to donors. Donors want to know how their gifts were used and what impact they had.
Reporting back effectively can be an art form and one that Ecojustice has mastered. Over the last few years they have published Victory Reports, rather than annual reports, to help donors understand their impact.
Today Ecojustice is joining us for an interview to talk about their Victory Reports and share a few insights on storytelling.
Question: What inspired Ecojustice to start the Victory Reports and how have they enhanced donor relations?
Ecojustice: In 2005, we reframed our annual report as the Victories Report. We wanted to show supporters how their gifts made an impact while incorporating striking wilderness and wildlife visuals. The short stories we tell highlight our legal victories – on behalf of all Canadians – for our air, water, land and wildlife. They also describe our sincerest gratitude for our donors’ on-going support of our work. It’s our aim to inspire our donors and make them feel good about supporting Ecojustice in the future. Because accountability and transparency is very important and integral to the culture of Ecojustice, we also show our donors the financial details, reporting the amount of funds we raised and how much we spent to operate over the past year.
Question: In the Victory Reports, you tell a wide variety of stories including stories about your work and stories about donors. How do you decide what stories to include?
Ecojustice: We look for stories that show our donors how the law is combatting some of our most pressing environmental problems. We group these under three headings: wilderness and wildlife, people and health, and climate change and energy. We then look to highlight donors and clients whose passion contributed to a victory in each section. In the people and health section of the 2014 Victories Report, the focus was on keeping Canadians safe and healthy. To illustrate our impact, we highlighted a legal victory that may reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals and a victory that protected a local community’s groundwater in Wellington County, Ontario.
Question: How do you work with staff and clients to collect these stories? What process do you go through?
Ecojustice: For the victories and looking-ahead sections, we start with existing materials: blogs, media releases, or emails. Communications staff work with program staff, our lawyers and scientists, to shape the copy and collaborate with our philanthropy team to ensure the copy is donor-centric. We revise and edit until we’re sure our donors see our promise to them fulfilled. When necessary, we’ll contact clients and ask them to talk more about why they worked with us. Our clients play an important part in sharing with our donors why the outcome is important and why our supporters’ contribution mattered.
Donor stories: Members of our philanthropy team start by interviewing donors. Other members of the team edit the first draft before sending it to communications for a final polish. Various members of the philanthropy team proofread and comment on the draft content and artwork as well as share donor feedback with the publications team.
Thank you so much for joining us for this interview, Ecojustice!