It helps them connect the money they give to the good work you do.
You know you need a story for your next newsletter or fundraising appeal. But what story should you use? Will any story do?
A boring story can actually hurt your fundraising efforts.
It can bore your reader into putting down your letter – exactly the opposite of what you were trying to accomplish!
Should you take that as a reason to avoid storytelling altogether? Of course not. But understand that not all stories are equal.
So how do you pick a good one?
- Emotional connection
- A happy ending
Let's start with the emotional connection.
You want your story to be about someone your donors will connect to emotionally.
If your donors don't care about your 'character', they aren't going to keep reading. And if they stop reading, there's a good chance they won't donate either.
You need whatever story you tell to have a character (or characters) your donors will care about. Here's some examples of good story characters:
- A dog rescued from a neglectful puppy mill.
- An abused child taken from their home by child protective services
- An elderly war veteran, trying to get to the war monuments in Washington DC.
Each of these 'characters' tugs at our heartstrings. (Or they should, you heartless monster…)
Who can watch those videos of the neglected animals in cages staring through the bars – and not want to help?
Or hear a story about an abused child and not want to give them comfort?
Or read about an elderly war veteran who wants to pay his respects to his fallen comrades one last time and not feel moved?
In general, children and animals are nearly always winners for fundraising. Some harder sells? People with substance abuse problems and homeless single men.
But having a character your donors will care about is only the first piece of fundraising storytelling.
You also need a positive outcome that will matter to your donors.
Donors don't just want a happy ending. They need one. Why else are they giving you their money? There are problems in the world – grave injustices – and your donors rely on you to fix them.
Let's use those character examples and see what a positive outcome for them would look like.
That pet dog rescued from the puppy mill... was adopted from the shelter to a loving home.
The abused child taken by child protective services... was just adopted by two loving parents.
The elderly war vet? Thanks to your donors, he gets to fly free of charge to Washington DC, to take part in a special ceremony honoring him.
Each of the above examples is a happy ending to a story with an unhappy beginning. But this still is not enough.
Your happy ending needs to tie back to the donors in some way.
If it could have happened without their support, it's not a good story to use in your fundraising. Why?
Because it's doesn't make their support seem necessary. And if your donors’ support isn’t necessary, why should
they give it?
Whatever story you choose to tell, make sure that your donors had a role to play.
Let’s look at the story of the dog that finally found a loving home.
Did your donors fund the operation that rescued him from the puppy mill? Or did they fund the shelter where he was taken? Did they provide the medical care he needed? A bed to sleep on or toys to play with?
Make sure you tell them.
You need to be able to say to your donors “Yup. You did that! Doesn't it make you feel great?”
An emotionally appealing character, a happy ending, and relevance to your donors – a story with all 3 elements is sure to raise money.