3 Storytelling Tips To Accelerate Your Fundraising

July 31, 2018

Everybody loves a good story. Whether it’s a gripping blockbuster movie, someone’s extraordinary effort in the newspaper, or a friend’s conversation about a gripping happenstance, humans love hearing enthralling tales. This remains true for the fundraising macrocosm. Stories are usually about a character discovering a problem and then (in the case of happy endings, at least) finding a satisfying solution to it and finally becoming a better person for the experience. This same structure applies in fundraising. There is nothing more important in fundraising than making that first connection with a prospective donor so they feel touched by your cause. Here are three tips to crafting stories that your audience will not be able to take their eyes away from!

1.  Let your donors know how much they mean to you

Your donors should be the hero of your story – not you. More than anything, you want them to feel great, valued and like they’re truly making a difference. For every mention of ‘I/we’, you should use word ‘you’ three more times so the user knows you’re thinking of them more than anything else. 

Let them know the value of their donations. Make sure you tell them exactly where their donation is going and how it will be spent. Tell them why you need their critical donation. Whether it’s funding something that is very important to the donor, helping to achieve your organization’s mission statement more efficiently, or funding research to make the future a happier place. 

Another way to engage donors is to use a story from someone who loves what your organization does. Whether it’s a direct beneficiary of donations, a volunteer or even another donor, make a human connection with case studies, testimonials and review to connect your audience with your brand ambassadors.  

2. Make your stories impactful 

What makes a story motivate someone to act? Don’t be self-serving. Your audience’s needs should come before your own and people know the difference. Avoid relying on statistics, tables and charts. Focus on characters and how one person’s life is changed for the better by someone else’s generosity.  

Your stories should be authentic to show that your organization supports transparency. Make sure you ask the owner of the story if you can use it and any photos or videos in your fundraising efforts beforehand. This also has the bonus of making the owner of the story feel special and appreciated. If they decline, ask if you can change their name and still feature the story. 

Focus on the important and emotionally engaging aspects of your story. Your editing process should take no prisoners. Get economical and remove any background information and details that don’t contribute to the story’s plot or emotional drive. You want your stories to get to the point, not waffle. 

3. Get social with your stories

As people like stories, it won’t hurt to put them in front of more humans. Why waste that time creating great content if no one reads it? Post your most touching stories on social media, complete with attention-grabbing visuals. Visuals don’t just mean photos – don’t shy away from using videos, so your audience can hear your story from the mouth of a real human, ideal the person whose story it is!  

Encourage users to leave their reaction on social media so you can see which stories your audience prefers and give them more of what they want. That said, don’t forget to test new types of stories too and be aware that your audience might prefer different stories at different times of the year or in line with current events. 

Share these tips with your marketing team and incorporate them into your fundraising stories. You’ll be fast tracked to becoming the next fundraising J.K. Rowling!  

About the Author

Elena is a Digital Marketing Account Executive in the hjc Marketing and fundraising team. She liaises closely with clients to define campaign objectives then produces comprehensive marketing strategies and execution to drive conversions and brand building efforts. Her marketing skills are well-rounded with specialisms in SEO, email, paid search, content, analytics, strategy, design theory, social media and more.