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.