Tell Stories to Raise Funds

You need to tell stories to raise funds for your mission, ministry or nonprofit. Storytelling is an essential skill for any fundraiser, because stories have a special power to bring us together.

Writing & storytelling make a difference in your fundraising

As I’ve worked with different nonprofit leaders, I’ve found the ones who struggle with storytelling also struggle to raise funds. Storytelling is different from reporting. We’re not talking about a laundry list of items telling donors what you did or where you went. A story follows one person (or a group) with a problem that needs to be solved. The story tells how they overcome challenges and find a solution to the problem, and the change that happens as a result.

Let’s look at some of the ways storytelling helps donors connect with our mission. 

  • Stories help us connect. When you listen to a story, your brainwaves  actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. 
  • Research shows compelling stories cause our brains to release oxytocin, increase empathy, and have the power to affect our behaviors.
  • Stories help us remember who we are and what we’re about. Donors give to their values. Telling stories that reflect those values help donors make good decisions about whether you’re a good match for them. 
  • Stories reveal truths. Your stories can help people see the world in a new way.
  • Stories take us to new places, and let us experience new things.
  • Stories give us context to make sense of all those things.

Stories give donors context to see where they fit in accomplishing the mission.

Every known culture tells stories. This is the way we make sense of the world and our place in it. All through the donor journey, and especially with people who are not familiar your mission, stories help them get to know, like, and trust you. 

You don’t just “need a story” to fill a space in your newsletter. You need a story to show donors what they can accomplish by giving to your mission. Where do they fit in this story? Not just through giving, but in the big picture of a world where this thing is a problem. They can reflect their values, glorify God, ease suffering, and experience deep personal satisfaction by stepping into this story and playing an active role.

Use these questions to think about stories you might tell:

  • What are some of the questions people ask about what you do and why you do it?
  • What are some misconceptions people have?
  • What do you wish people knew?
  • What stories can you tell to donors to help them connect to the hands-on work (specially if your mission is far away, and they are not likely to ever experience it personally)?
You may also like:  Ethan Bryan – Baseball and Storytelling

I’m convinced one of the most powerful helps for us to tell better stories is to think about why we tell stories in the first place! 

Tell Betters stories. Raise More Funds.

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