Show and Tell Time

Remember show and tell back when you were in elementary school?  You would bring in something special, such as a shell from a recent vacation, and share it with the class.

Nonprofit organizations have their own version of show and tell when they share accomplishments and stories.  You need these for your year-end appeal and annual report, so why not spend some time collecting them now.

Show your donors how they are helping you are making a difference

Sharing accomplishments is not a bragfest.  Too often I see a list of activities or accomplishments that are focused on the organization. 

Instead of saying we started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in the Riverside community, say Thanks to you, we started a CSA program………  Now every week residents receive a box of fresh fruit and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, and blueberries.  

Use clear, conversational examples. Don’t throw around terms like market-based solutions or underserved communities.  Use words your donors will understand.

Tell a good story

You want to capture your donor’s attention right away and a good way to do that is to open your fundraising appeal or annual report with an engaging story. Here’s an example. 

Gina is a single mother of four working two part-time jobs. She struggles to put food on the table, but thanks to YOU, she and her family can get fresh fruit and vegetables every week.  “I’m so excited,” said Gina.  I usually can’t afford to buy a lot of fresh vegetables.  My kids actually liked the spinach.”

Always write from the heart.  Keep statistics and facts to a minimum.

Remember to include your donors in your stories.  Focus on how they are helping you make a difference, and keep your organization in the background.

A picture is worth a 1000 words

I know is this a cliché, but it’s so true.  You can strengthen your appeal letter and annual report with engaging photos.

Besides your direct mail letter, use photos in your email appeal, donation page, and on social media.  You can use the same picture(s) throughout your campaign for consistency.

Work with program staff

You need to share information about the people or community you serve, and you’ll have to work with your program staff to find accomplishments and stories, as well as getting access to photos.

Respect your colleagues’ time and your clients’ confidentiality.  You can often find clients who are willing to share their stories, and you can always change their names if needed.

Create a story culture

Gathering accomplishments and stories will be less overwhelming if you can do it throughout the year.  Start your staff meetings with a success story or have your program staff give you regular updates, which you can use in your appeal letters, newsletters, annual report, etc.

When you communicate with donors, show them how they are helping you make a difference and tell a good story.

This post contains a number of links to help you tell your stories.

How Are You Telling Your Stories?

Here are a couple more.

Simple Ways to Raise More Money with Storytelling

Your Nonprofit Story: Blockbuster or Dud?


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