For me, history class was always about memorizing names, places, and dates. I could tell you almost none of those facts now, but when I saw Hamilton, history was woven into a story that deeply affected me. That’s what stories do.
When it comes to fundraising, it’s a lot more about the heart than the head. Impressive statistics show that your organization is making a tangible difference, but why spend time there when one good story will do the job?
Every nonprofit should keep a folder of great stories, and these stories should be shared with your donors. When choosing a story, you’ll know it’s great if it is:
In other words, this story should represent the larger work that you do. If you are running a rescue mission, you can talk about all of the great programs you offer, or you can tell a story that shows what you do. Use the story about the man who found himself alone because of alcoholism. In fact, he woke up on the sidewalk in front of your mission with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. When he asked God for a sign to help him, he turned over and saw the sign for your mission and knew he was in the right place. When this man says his life is changed and that he has hope, his story has told your donors everything they need to know about your mission.
Amazingly, many organizations are able to tell stories that we don’t remember because they are generic. If you tell a story with only general information, it won’t be memorable. You can talk about how you helped the man who came into your free dental clinic after not seeing a dentist in 6 years. Or you can talk about the man who fell and busted his teeth. Because he couldn’t afford a dentist, he began pulling out his own teeth with pliers and buying his own antibiotics. Your free clinic was a miracle for him, and your donor won’t forget that story any time soon.
As you see from the previous story, the details help make it memorable. Details also communicate a lot of information in a small space. Consider a story about a family living in a pay-by-week motel. The key detail in this story is that they have no door, so every night they put a piece of plywood over the door frame. That single detail gives the audience a lot of information: the family is not safe, they have no other options if they’re still living there, and the motel owner is taking advantage of them. That one detail communicated how harsh poverty is without saying anything else.
In fundraising, stories speak to the heart, and stories move us to action. Facts and stats might convince your donor to give, but a good story will convince your donor to invest.
Fundraising is important work, and improving your stories can only improve your connection with donors. Let’s talk about how we can help you write great stories for your organization. Request a consultation>>