How often do you find yourself telling other people what you do for a living?
Be it at a dinner party, a random event, walking the dog, or even at the grocery store, I’ll share what I do for a living at least once a week. And because it happens so often, I’ve had to find a way to tell that story in an exciting way.
Ever asked someone, “Oh, and what work are you in?” – only to immediately regret it?
The last thing you want to hear is a jargon-filled, boring explanation. It’s for that reason that I learned that the best way to tell my story was to make people feel something.
For example, I could tell people that I’m a fundraiser. That may get an interested grunt or two, but more than likely it will kill the conversation. Instead, I might say that I write letters to thousands of people every week. If nothing else, this would make someone curious and get them asking some questions.
Try applying this same philosophy to your next fundraising appeal: focus less on what your organization does, and more on making the donor feel something. Because we know that when a donor is emotionally involved, they are more likely to give a gift.
A great way to get our donors feeling something is to tell stories. Stories have been with us from the beginning of time. They help us learn. They inspire us. They move us. And they help us remember.
And when we use stories to communicate with our donors, whether through appeal letters, newsletters, or reports, they immediately become emotionally involved. Because just as people who ask you what you do for a living aren’t looking for a boring job description, donors aren’t looking for a laundry list of what your non-profit does.
For example, if you’re an animal shelter sending an appeal to cat lovers, then focus on the story of a cat that needs help. In your letter, explain the problem that the cat is having and what will happen if it doesn’t get help. And when you use a story to highlight a problem that the donor can solve with her gift, you position her as the hero.
Appeals work best when your donors are emotionally involved. And stories are a powerful way to introduce a problem and invite the donor to solve it.
This post was originally published on August 13, 2019.