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How to tell stories that inspire donations

story telling

Your nonprofit’s story is what motivates donors to give, encourages staff and volunteers to keep working hard, and piques the interest of the community around you to learn more about your cause. For this reason, it is important that your nonprofit has a powerful story to share and that you are incorporating it into the many different on and offline marketing elements.

Elements of a good story

Your nonprofit’s story provides your organization with a voice in which to share impact and connect with donors. Here are a few key elements of a good nonprofit story:

1. It’s memorable

The goal of storytelling is to help your nonprofit stand out, so having a memorable story is going to be a key element. Take the time to create written content, visuals and videos to engage your viewers in a impressionable way.

2. It has a relatable character

Viewers can relate to your story better when they feel like they can connect to an individual protagonist. Try to think beyond just an idea or your organization and actually create a relatable character. People are twice as likely to give a charitable gift when presented an emotion-inducing personal story of one victim that focuses exclusively on his or her plight.

3. It shares the character’s needs and conflict

Your story should share your protagonist’s desire or needs and the obstacle that is keeping them from getting what they need. Stories that resonate with your readers are often those that include suffering and hardship.

4. It reaches all demographics

Your story must be universal, reaching all segments and demographics who might be affected by the hardship. Go beyond just the individual who is facing the obstacle, but also their family or community that may also be affected.

5. It ends with a powerful call to action

Your story should end with a powerful call-to-action that relates to your character’s needs and the conflict that stands in the way of them fulfilling these desires.

3 pieces of advice for storytelling

Vanessa Chase Lockshin, an international non-profit consultant with The StoryTelling Nonprofit, shares 3 pieces of storytelling advice for organizations:

  1. Understand storytelling as a process, rather than a goal.
  2. Interview someone to create a compelling and relatable story.
  3. Develop time and resource management habits in order to make storytelling a priority.

Incorporating your story into online giving

Now you’re ready to write a great story for your nonprofit, or maybe you already had one ready, but you don’t know how to incorporate it into all of your different marketing elements both on and offline. Your story must be adapted to reach all channels. Here are a few ways you can incorporate your story into all aspects of your nonprofit’s online giving channels:

  • Tell your story front and center on your website home page, ending with a call-to-action button that leads to your online giving form.
  • Share how different monetary amounts will affect the story’s character.
  • Create visuals or videos with your story that can easily be shared on social media channels.
  • Include a sense of urgency that encourages readers to donate immediately.

Your nonprofit’s story can ultimately be the factor that motivates donors to give to your cause—good storytelling inspires online giving.

Image credit

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Since founding 4aGoodCause in 1998, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves - building software that makes a difference in the world. For almost 20 years, Ronald and the 4aGoodCause online fundraising platform have helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits from Maine to Hawaii. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @4aGC.

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