Storytelling and Major Gifts…it’s NOT Exactly What You Think

There is a lot of buzz about the power of storytelling in successful fundraising.  I see it on many blogs, twitter and articles.

Everyone seems to be talking about storytelling.  I hope you are too.

Traditionally, I think folks thought about storytelling in the context of a fund appeal letter or e-appeal as part of a direct-response program.

But, it’s absolutely crucial in major gift fundraising.  I’m not sure where this came from, but fundraising professionals thought that the more money you give, the less emotion plays into the motivation for the gift.

We’re all humans.  As my business partner, Richard Perry, likes to quote, “The difference between us and people with money is that they have more money.”

For some reason, we tend to think that major donors somehow are devoid of emotion when they make their gifts.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.

So, how does this play out as you steward your donors?  Well…understand that your donors give from their head and their heart.  And, that every project or program you need funded has a story behind it.

Yes, you definitely have budgets, facts, data and a plan for each of these projects, but somewhere there is a story in there that will inspire your donor.  So, how do you tell that story?  Ultimately it would be great to have it come from the inspiration for that project.  Who better to tell the story than the person who dreamed up the project or program.

Or, it could be the person managing the particular project…but even better the story could come from the person or people who are benefiting from it.  What an incredible way to connect the donor to the need than to hear from those who are most benefiting from it.

But, in all the telling of OUR story, we cannot forget that we also need to hear the donor’s story.  In fact, it may be more important.  I was reading the Future Fundraising Now Blog and came across this quote:

“The stories we tell should not be about ourselves — how effective, and cool, and world-changing we are. The stories should be about how donors connect to the cause we mutually care about.”

You need to know THAT story.  You should ask yourself, am I listening to my donors?  Have I asked them why they care about the work we do?  Have you heard why they choose your organization over others?

Knowing your donor’s story allows you to tell your story in a more powerful, respectful and life-affirming way.

It’s not about you.  It’s about your donors.  Remember that as you learn how to tell your story to inspire your donors.  Perhaps it’s they who can first inspire you.


About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Donor-Centered, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Non-Profits, Philanthopy, Storytelling, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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