Nonprofit TestimonialsSearching for more effective ways to build interest and action for your nonprofit? There’s no better way than letting your supporters and partners do the talking with testimonials. They’re one of the easiest to develop, but most underused, marketing tactics you have. And can double as the heart of a longer story! So let’s get going.

Testimonials are one of the easiest to develop, but most underused, marketing tactics you have. And can double as the heart of a longer story! So let’s get going.

A testimonial is a brief quote from a member of your nonprofit’s network—donor, volunteer, client, staffer, member, or community stakeholder—that clearly and briefly expresses how your organization’s work has benefited her life or that of her family or community. Few of us, however, use testimonials to full effect.

Take a look at what could be! These powerful testimonial models are drawn from the websites of organizations just like yours: 

1) Donor: I had the opportunity to witness the growth and development of children in need when I volunteered at Berea Children’s Home and Family Services while in college. The children had experienced so much hurt in the past. This season, our families just really wanted to make a difference … so we all made gifts to BCHFS. [We] could not be more satisfied and confident knowing that our gifts positively impact children’s lives.

What’s working here: This testimonial is super specific, with lots of concrete details that bring the speaker’s experience to life.

2) Client: I came into the hospital as a very nervous hip replacement patient. I left confident and relaxed, comfortable with my ability to care for myself and my family. … You cared for me intensely when I needed care and let me care for myself when I was ready. What more could a rehabilitation patient ask for?

What’s working here: This before and after scenario is a time-tested storytelling technique that opens the door for us to join the speaker’s journey. Join me!

3) Volunteer: The hours that I spend volunteering for HOM are the best part of my week. I always look forward to coming into the office and seeing other volunteers and the delightful staff, and I especially cherish the times when I go visit patients. I feel that discovering hospice has been one of the greatest events in my life.

What’s working here: Again, super-specific details rule. Take away the details (what she loves about volunteering, the build of excitement, the joy of spending time with patients), and this testimonial deflates in a flash.

Why Testimonials Work

For prospective donors, volunteers, partners, and other supporters, nothing is more valuable than hearing from peers about their experiences with your organization and its programs and services. Call it “from the horse’s mouth” marketing!

When others who benefit from or participate in your organization’s work share its value—the difference it makes in their lives—their comments are authentic, convincing and far more likely to be digested, remembered and repeated. Plus, others sometimes have glowing comments about your nonprofit’s impact that you’d be embarrassed to share (don’t be, but still) or may not even think of.

The most powerful testimonials aren’t about your organization; they’re about how someone like your prospect or supporter prospect has benefited from involvement with your organization. That’s credibility that can’t be created any other way. Go to it!

More testimonial how-tos to come over the next few months. So much to gain, with relatively little effort.



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