You tell me you’re always seeking more effective ways to build interest and action. Well, there’s no better way than letting your supporters and partners do the talking with testimonials.
You’ve seen testimonials for every type of program, issue and organization imaginable. They’re brief quotes from a member of your nonprofit’s network—donor, volunteer, client, staffer, member or community stakeholder—that clearly and briefly express how your organization’s work has benefited her life or that of her family or community. But still, few of you use testimonials to full effect.
Today, I hope to motivate you to start putting testimonials to work via this easy-to-get-to success story from Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
HARO tweeted a request for testimonials, and got stellar results (in 140 characters or less) tweeted out. HARO then retweeted these mini-testimonials to its own 61,000 followers. Trustworthy referrals and exponential reach, at no cost, and little effort.
Look at these responses they received from satisfied customers, the first from an expert source and the second from a journalist who found the sources he needed.
Take a look at what could be…these powerful examples are drawn from nonprofit websites:
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.
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 from 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.
Client: I came into the hospital 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?
Add a name, title and employer name and testimonials power up:
It is always wonderful to see what we accomplish during our projects. We really feel like we make a difference by improving the land and beautifying the urban wilds,” said Matt Lynde, a Boston Cares project leader who works with EarthWorks Projects to spruce up and landscape wildlife sanctuaries in Boston.
Add a headshot, and the testimonial comes to life at its strongest.
Nothing you or your colleagues say is as strong as the words of your supporters’ peers, friends or family.
Why Testimonials Work
For prospective clients, donors, partners and others, there’s nothing more valuable than hearing from peers on what their experiences have been with your organization and its programs and services. Testimonials carry more credibility than anything you could say yourself. And, others speaking about your nonprofit may have glowing comments about your work that you would be embarrassed to share yourself.
Your prospect expects you to go on and on about the impact of your nonprofit or the importance of your new program. However, when you have someone who has experienced that benefit first hand, their comments are much more convincing and accepted!
Keep this in mind though: The most powerful testimonials aren’t about your organization; they’re about how someone much like the prospect has benefited from involvement with your organization. So the more specific and genuine the testimonials, the more they’re likely to move your people.
How to Get Testimonials and Use Them for All They’re Worth
- Follow up regularly with clients, volunteers, donors and others, asking for feedback. Doing so via an online survey such as Survey Monkey can be effective, or mini-polls via Facebook and Twitter. Follow up as soon after your interaction with your audiences as possible, while the experience is still fresh.
- Ask for one or two sentences describing the value of the experience with your organization whether it be program participation, giving or use of your counseling service. Try to focus testimonials on an objection your prospects are likely to have, such as volunteering takes a lot but doesn’t give much back.
- Provide an example to make it easier for your supporters to craft a useful statement. You can even draft a testimonial to be OK-d or revised.
- Request permission to use the testimonials in your marketing and fundraising campaigns.
- Take the testimonial you get and shape it into a brief but powerful statement. Limit testimonial length to one or two brief sentences, with a photo whenever you can get it.
- To ensure credibility, include the name and title of the person contributing the testimonial and the name of their business or organization if relevant. In some cases, issues of confidentiality will make attribution impossible. If this is the case, create a profile to serve as an attribution, e.g. “Donny R., 30 years old, and WHR dental patient for over ten years.”
- Integrate testimonials in general and more targeted communications, both online and offline. I feel that spreading testimonials throughout your online and offline channels and campaigns has far greater impact than concentrating them on a single page. By spreading them out, prospects are more likely to see them even if they don’t read every page.
- Make sure to refresh your testimonials on an ongoing basis to reflect current programming and campaigns.
Start Your Testimonial Collection Campaign Today
Yes, get out there and start soliciting testimonials from audiences today. Remember to ask for testimonials whenever possible, and use them often and wisely!
In addition to great marketing content, you’ll be getting useful insights to strengthen the way your organization does business. Bonus!