Women With Drive & Value of Long-Tail Donations

Photo by bradleygee

Last week I wrote a post about how valuable handwritten notes can be to your donors, and the consensus seemed to be that while many people donate to causes for more magnanimous reasons, getting a personalized acknowledgement adds very yummy icing to that great big cake of goodness.

Sometimes, however, it is not always possible to provide donors with an immediate response as to how their donation helped. Sometimes the organization that’s doing the helping isn’t even sure if the results will be a happy ending, or when that happy ending might occur. One such organization is Women With Drive, an amazing NPO run by the admirable Molly Cantrell-Kraig.

Imagine This

You are a woman with six children. You never graduated from high school, and you experienced abuse at home. Now you’re in a homeless shelter, but you don’t have transportation so it seems like digging yourself out of this hole is well nigh impossible. That’s where Women with Drive steps in, and offers a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. As Molly says, “Rather than transportation, our model is actually focused on transFORMATION.”

Long-term Goals Mean Long-Tail Donations

Molly defines the goal of Women with Drive as ending “systemic generational poverty.” Bringing a woman from the kind of unstable situation described above to a woman who has her GED, a car, and psychological stability is not something that can be created with a $5 check. However, donors are essential to the cause.

Molly notes, “We couldn’t do any of our work without the caring and compassionate donors who serve two essential functions: funding the ‘nuts and bolts’ components of physical autonomy that the car itself provides (paying for oil changes, tires, maintenance, etc) and those who give larger amounts who are interested in the intangible ROI of a woman’s dignity and potential as a human being.”

This means that if you donate to Women with Drive, you may not get that immediate handwritten response. You might not get a picture 3 weeks later showing what your donation did.

Keeping Donors Engaged

If you run a cause like Molly’s that isn’t necessarily set up for immediate gratification for donors, how can you be sure that you keep donors interested in your progress? How can you build a community?

Social Media can play a very large role in these types of efforts. Molly does a great job with the Women with Drive Facebook page, where she not only posts relevant information but she also keeps the community updated on how different WWDF clients are progressing.

I once went to a fundraising event where “before and after” photos were shown of women who had been aided by the homeless shelter running the event. In the “before” pictures they held up signs explaining their obstacles. In the “after” photos they told us what they had accomplished. Videos, blog posts, e-newsletters or hard-copy newsletters, and even Flickr or Instagram feeds are great ways to show your community of donors regular progress.

Sometimes people who donate to a cause want that instant feeling of well-being that comes with doing a good deed. While this may not always be possible in the traditional sense, it’s still possible to keep them engaged in your progress. Follow Molly and Women With Drive for great examples of how to accomplish that very goal.

Do you struggle with how to let donors know that they are making a difference? What have you tried in the past if you run a “long-tail” kind of cause? We’d love to hear from you!