Client Stories: Impacting Employees, Donors, Volunteers
Client success stories must be collected, shared often and treated like gold—because they are! Authentic anecdotes help retain your employees and volunteers when they begin to feel burned out and overwhelmed. Personalized impact stores will inspire your donors to dig just a little deeper for your cause, which is vital when so many charities are competing for their dollars.
A particular story from our early days has always stuck with me, reminding me to drive our mission and teams. I thought it may inspire you to generate stories to ignite your employees, donors and volunteers.
“Six years ago, I facilitated a client event called “Rally for Ryan.” Ryan, aged 13, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Most DMD-affected children die in their late teens to early twenties and there is currently no cure.
When another staff member and I arrived at the fundraising event, Ryan's mom proceeded to us that her family received $16,000 at last year’s event using pen and paper (rather than the fundraising technology my company, Gesture, sold her). She made it clear that if her family does not receive at least that much plus our fee, they wouldn't be able to afford Ryan's medicine and doctor. At the time, there was only one DMD-specialized doctor nationwide who could manage the disease and prolong Ryan’s life.
This occurred during Gesture’s early days when we lacked a team to call in case of emergency. And while this was not Gesture’s first facilitated event, this one definitely had the most pressure!
I remember seeing Ryan for the first time. He was just a little boy with a cute
round face. Immediately after seeing his gigantic smile, I remember going into the bathroom to see if I had $16,000 in my checking account ... just in case we failed, and I had to personally cover his medical payments.
The guests began to arrive, and many of them complained that they
wanted to bid the old way: using paper and pen. I begged them to bid with their cell phones. I remember personally making the opening bids on many items that night. As the night wore on, people started to accept the concept of text bidding, and I started to get outbid! Gesture was working.
During the event, Ryan’s father made a powerful speech about family's struggle to deal with their youngest of four children's terminal illness and how all they wanted was for their precious little boy to be happy and not to suffer. The part of the speech when he said that most DMD children don’t live to be 20 years old and that their short lives are filled with tremendous pain really struck a chord with me. At that time I had a two-year-old boy of my own. I literally couldn’t hear another word. I broke down so hard that I had to leave right before the fund a need.
As soon as I could, I gathered myself and raced back into the ballroom and
handled the fund a need in the nick of time. I was outbid on every item and in the end, we helped the family more than double their goal! I'll never forget Ryan's mom hugging me and saying that they will now be able to cover Ryan’s medical expenses for the next two years, with even a little extra to buy him some toys. Knowing we had played a small role in making Ryan's life a little better was an amazing feeling.
Compelling stories help grantmakers begin to see your mission statement in action and envision how your charity serves the larger community. Stories tell others why we do what we do—to make a difference. Remembering the individuals you have served so well will help you move into the holiday season and new year with renewed sense of purpose. Our team is energized by our client stories and uses it as fuel to reinforce our mission to help nonprofits make more hope happen.
Jim Alvarez is the founder and CEO of full-service fundraising technology company Gesture By Community Brands. Gesture has helped nonprofits across the country raise over $500 million since 2011 through the use of technology. Alvarez is the recipient of the Chicago Innovation Award and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award for his innovative idea and launch of Gesture. He is an avid speaker and author helping nonprofits to embrace mobile fundraising technology to increase fundraising efforts. Alvarez drives the growing company to make hope happen for nonprofits developing innovative ideas that embrace technology.