Note: this guest post was contributed by Jennifer Miller. Read Jennifer’s past guest posts here.
We know storytelling spurs emotional connections and engages donors. So how do you know if your story is the right one to use?
Look for these 4 ingredients:
Make sure the “characters” in your story are ones donors care about. Empathy increases pro-social behaviors. If you don’t have empathetic characters, you’re not giving donors reasons to care about the people in your story.
This is a really important ingredient. It’s the problem at hand — the tension in the story that keeps the reader hanging on every word. Conflict leads readers to think, “Then what happened?” Conflict can be a hungry family with no food. A child with complex medical needs who can’t afford proper therapies. Conflict is any number of things that your organization helps to solve.
You’ve presented the conflict. Now present the solution. That family with no food? They go to a food pantry funded by donor gifts and now get three meals a day. Important: Make sure the solution involves the donor. Make her, and not just your organization, a part of the solution. Her giving helped the family get needed food. Her compassion made a life-changing difference.
You’ve just told a compelling story. You’ve pulled on heartstrings and made emotional connections. Make sure you also affirm and praise the donor. See what’s possible thanks to YOUR giving, Mrs. Donor? You can’t do this enough. Donors want to know they made a difference, and there’s no better way to communicate that than by simply telling them. After all, storytelling is as much about reporting back on the impact of giving as it is about getting donors to give again.
Jennifer Miller has 21 years of experience in direct response. She’s worked for 10 years as a Creative Director at TrueSense Marketing (www.TrueSense.com, www.linkedin.com/company/truesense-marketing; @TrueSenseMktg), helping nonprofits raise more funds through donor-centered strategies.