Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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The Most Powerful Marketing Copy
in the World Testimonials

by Nancy Schwartz

What is a testimonial?

You've seen testimonials for every type of product and service imaginable. A testimonial is a brief quote from a member of your audience donor, volunteer, client, member or community stakeholder summarizing how your organization has benefited him or her.

Nothing you can say or write has as much impact as comments from your audience, to your audience. Yet, I continue to be surprised at how many nonprofits don't put testimonials to work.

Take a look at these examples, drawn from nonprofit websites and brochure:

  • 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 HOM volunteers and our 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 can think of no support higher on my priorities list than a donation to the Global Fund for Women's Investing in Women Campaign. After 16+ years of building an excellent track record, the Global Fund is in a good place to establish an endowment fund to help secure its long term commitment to the issues of international women and their families."

  • 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?"

Why Testimonials Work

Prospective clients, donors and others want to hear from their peers what their experiences have been with your organization and its programs and services. Testimonials are crucial because someone other than you is telling prospects the value of their involvement with your organization. Testimonials provide prospects with a human face and story (everyone loves a good story) and an objective opinion.

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!

How to Get Testimonials and Use Them for All They're Worth

  1. Follow up regularly with clients, volunteers, donors and others, asking for feedback. You might want to develop a web-based feedback survey or simply call or email. Follow up as soon after your interaction with your audiences as possible, while the experience is still fresh.

  2. If you use a survey form or email, 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. Provide an example to make it easier for your respondents to craft a useful statement. You can even draft a model testimonial for them to amend.

  3. Take your testimonial feedback (verbal or written) and shape it into a brief but powerful statement. Limit testimonial length to one or two brief sentences, with a photo when space allows.

  4. Request permission to use the testimonials in your marketing and fundraising campaigns.

  5. 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."

  6. Integrate testimonials in general and more targeted promotions, both print and online. I feel that spreading testimonials throughout your website or brochure has 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.

  7. Make sure to refresh your testimonials so they 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!

copyright © 2002-2007 Nancy E. Schwartz. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


About the Author:

Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (, Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.

Subscribe to her free e-newsletter "Getting Attention", ( and read her blog at for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.

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