Your work is vital. We are raising funds to support it.
Your organization is doing great work, but you may not
always be telling that story in a way that resonates with potential donors and other
In It's Not You, It's
Your Stories at the 2012 Nonprofit
Technology Conference, Steve Daigneault (VP of eCampaigns at M&R Strategic Services) and Sue Citro (Director
of Digital Strategy, Global Programs at The
Nature Conservancy) shared their tips for telling better and more effective
The most surprising thing Steve Daigneault shared was M+R
Strategic Service's tests on the effectiveness of storytelling.
In M+R's tests, telling a personal story didn't actually perform very well versus the
more traditional approach of "outlining the institutional approach, accomplishments, and need."
This seems to fly in the face of what we keep hearing about
stories: that stories are effective fundraising strategies because they're universal, they create emotional connections, and they promote information retention.
If all of that is true, how come M+R Strategic Services found that personal stories didn't work
for fundraising? The key, Daigneault argues, is telling a certain kind of story.
Daigneault says there are two kinds of stories: stories that
explain and stories that compel action.
In order to compel donors to act (donate), your story needs
to do more than just explain – it must make the donor to feel like they are an
active participant in the story. Just like reading a Choose-Your-Own
Adventure novel, the donor must feel they have an opportunity to change the
So how do you figure out what makes a compelling story?
Sue Citro shared tips from her experience evaluating and
updating the Nature Conservancy's fundraising and outreach program. Her suggestions for telling more effective stories included:
The session closed with tips and "gut checks"
(questions to ask to decide if your story is worth sharing).
Tips for telling better stories:
Gut check questions to decide if your story is compelling:
by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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