Storytelling for Fundraising – But What Do I Say?

In our last article, we talked briefly about the importance of getting your board “on board” with fundraising efforts. Boards should lead the way in the fundraising department and set the tone for the entire organization to encourage support and donations.

One way in which you can encourage your board members to participate in fundraising activities is to change the mindset around fundraising from a chore to a pleasure. How can asking for money be a pleasure? When it’s framed as a story with a message at the end, it becomes much more fun to talk to people about your nonprofit and yes, ask for a donation.

If you’re not a natural storyteller, never fear. We have several tips to help you think on your feet.

What Stories Should I Tell?

Stories for fundraising take several forms. These include:

  1. Stories about the organization: Talk to people about how your organization became involved in its work. Who was the founder? What did he or she do? Where did you start? Most board members know their organization’s story by heart. It’s a great place to start. The ending can be, “We need your help to keep the story going…” and then the call for a donation.
  2. Stories about individuals: Individual stories stick in people’s minds the best. Who are the people you have helped? Tell their individual stories and include details (without compromising anyone’s privacy, of course). For example, a nonprofit that donates mosquito netting to villagers in Central and South American can share how it helped one woman give birth to a healthy baby by preventing zika virus infection. It’s stories like this that connect people emotionally to the charity to which their funds are donated.
  3. Ask the other person their story: This is an interesting twist on storytelling for donations. Instead of telling your story, or the organization’s account, ask the other person their story in reference to your organization’s mission. Someone seeking donations for an education nonprofit may ask, “Where did you go to college?” and the answer may lead to a story about how the potential donor chose their college. This can segue into a discussion about how they paid for college, the opportunities a college education opened for them, and so on. From there, you can weave the story of how your nonprofit helps people go to college and why their donation is essential. You use their story as a springboard for the donation request.

Connecting the Dots, Story-Style

Stories connect the dots between the work an organization does and the impact it makes upon those it serves. Data about the organization is important; after all, people do want to look up nonprofits on sites such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator to ensure that their donation is going to an organization that manages its work responsibly.

But it is the stories that people remember, not the facts. An animal shelter helps place dozens of dogs and cats annually, but it’s the story about the shelter dog who woke his family up by barking and saved them from a fire that will keep donors interested. It’s asking the donor if they’ve ever rescued a dog from a shelter and seeing their eyes light up when they tell you about Duke and what a great dog he was, and then reminding them that the Dukes of this world also needs a home. Stories, and the emotion they convey, connect the dots between heart and mind, donor and organization.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.