The Value of Proof(ing)


If you are responsible for producing an annual report for your nonprofit, I have a piece of advice that could save you embarrassment and preserve your major donors.

Build time into your production timeline for a preliminary mailing of the annual report proof to your donors. This should be marked “proof” and be accompanied by a letter asking the donor to confirm the accuracy of their name on the donor list in the report.  This proof is sometimes referred to as a “blue line” mailing, which is an old printing term from a time when a printers proof actually appeared in blue text.

In a rush to get the annual report in the mail, we didn’t take this extra step with my client last year. That was a mistake. We heard from two important donors.  In one instance, names were duplicated and appeared in two different giving levels, each of which were more modest levels than where they should have been listed.

A second long time donor was disappointed that we had not called out separately, the names of her family and friends who made donations in memory of her mother.

These both could have been easily caught ahead of time if the proof had been mailed out. I am happy (and relieved) that these oversights have not affected the relationship with these two donors, each of whom receives services for their loved ones at this particular nonprofit. But there are literally thousands of new nonprofits entering the marketplace each year…all vying for attention, love and loyalty by OUR valued donors. Obviously we cannot control this, but there is no room for error in our communication with our investors. Nothing should jeopardize their faith or erode trust in our nonprofit. So this year, for the important things that we can control, let’s be sure we are all on our “A Game” and use the blue line proof.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions


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