When your donors open your appeal letter or newsletter, do you bombard them with a bunch of boring, mind-numbing statistics, or do you share a story about how the Johnson family moved out of a shelter and into a home of their own?
If you’re making a difference, you have stories to tell
Donors love stories. Stories bring the work you do to life by using everyday language to create a scene. Here’s an example.
Sheila woke up feeling good for the first time in awhile. After losing her job and being evicted from her apartment, she moved between her sister’s place, motels, and shelters. It was taking a toll on her family and her kids were falling behind in school.
That was about to change because thanks to donors like you, Sheila and her family will be moving into a home of their own.
Can you tell a story like that? If you’re making a difference, you can. Stories should show your donors how they’re helping you making a difference for the people you serve.
Create a culture of storytelling
If you create a storytelling culture in your organization, you can make storytelling the norm instead of the exception.
Creating stories takes a little more work, but they will help you connect with your donors. When putting together a story, ask
- Why would your donors be interested in this story?
- Why is this important?
- Are you using clear, everyday language (no jargon) to make sure your donor understands your story?
- Who are you helping?
- How is your donor helping you make a difference?
Client or program recipient stories are best. You’ll need to work together with program staff to get these stories. Everyone needs to understand how important this is. Share stories at staff meetings and/or set up regular meetings with program staff to gather stories.
Another way to find stories is to put a Share Your Story page on your website. Share-Your-Story Page | an addition to the fundraiser’s arsenal of tools
You can also share profiles of volunteers, board members, and donors. Many organizations profile new board members in their newsletters. That’s fine, but instead of emphasizing their professional background, concentrate on what drew them to your organization. Perhaps she has a brother who’s struggling with Parkinson’s or he’s passionate about the environment.
Create a story bank to help you organize all your stories. You want to use stories often. Use them in your appeal letters, thank you letters, newsletters, annual reports, website, blog, and other types of social media. You can use the same stories in different channels.
Give your stories the personal touch
Use people’s names to make your stories more personal. I realize you might run into confidentiality issues, but you can change names to protect someone’s privacy. You could also do a composite story, but don’t make up anything. How to Tell Nonprofit Stories While Respecting Client Confidentiality
Your stories aren’t about your organization
Let your donors know how with their help, Monica doesn’t have to choose between buying groceries and paying the heating bill. Your organization stays in the background. And remember,Your Mission Statement is NOT Your Story
Dazzle your donors with a great story. In my next post, I’ll write about sharing visual stories.
Resources to help you tell your stories.
Photo by David Bleasdale