Anytime we tell a story to our donors we generally have the goal of wanting to inspire them. We want them to feel optimistic about the future, be excited about our vision and connected to our story’s character and their triumph. It’s a tall order for any story and unfortunately it’s where most stories fall flat.
There’s the anticipation, the conflict and a resolution of the conflict, which the audience is happy to hear about. But all too often the story abruptly stops there.
The reality is that the end of a story is a huge opportunity to solidify the connection you’ve built with your audience and reinforce share vision and values that you both have for the organization’s mission.
The Question that Changes Everything
We want our stories to end on a high note and be a source of inspiration for our readers. An effective way to achieve this is to revisit the beginning of the story.
At the beginning of the story, you told your donors about a problem that your story’s character was facing. By the end of the story, they had solved that problem and as a result, their life is now better.
Rather than ending the story right there, ask the character to reflect on this question: What if you had never used this program/service?
The question of “What if” is extremely powerful and opens up a space for reflective thought about what life would be like in another set of circumstances.
So why is that inspiring?
It reminds your donors of the change that they’ve made possible. It shows them the value of the work and the impact their gift has had. It shows them a specific time when “what if” didn’t occur and can serve as a reminder that there are more people out there who face the possibility of the “what if.” In other words, there are more people that they can help through their philanthropy.
Actionable Tip for Your Next Story
Inspiring your donors through the next story that you tell does not have to a giant mystery. Here is my actionable tip for implementing this idea in your next story.
When interviewing the client/volunteer/programs staff member, be sure to ask them at least one “what if” question.
Once you’ve got the answer to that question, tack on the answer to the end of the story. I recommend using a direct quote for maximum impact rather than summarizing what the person said.
How do you currently end your stories? Is there a new technique that you’d like to try when it comes to inspiring your donors? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!