Repurpose the Proven

story

In a movie directed by Oliver Stone in the second half of the 1980’s, Charlie Sheen plays a young man who follows a bad father figure, then turns to follow a good father figure. Can you name the movie?

If you said Platoon, you are right. If you said Wall Street, you are right. Both movies told the same story, and both were a huge success. The primary difference was that Platoon took us into the green jungles of Viet Nam circa 1967, and Wall Street took us into the concrete jungles of Manhattan circa 1985.

Here’s my point: Wall Street premiered less than 12 months after Platoon, but no one who saw it complained, “Hey, we were told this story last year!”

That’s a quote from Roy H. Williams, one of my favorite writers. 

It’s one of those quotes that’s not about fundraising, but it’s absolutely about fundraising.

Because if you’re going to get good at fundraising, you’re going to find yourself telling the same “story” over and over again.

The beneficiary will change.  The circumstances and details will change.  But it’ll be the same “story” in the way Platoon and Wall Street are the same story.

Because when you find a particular “story” that elicits the response in your donors that you’re looking for, you want to repeat that “story.”  Again and again and again.

You’ll get tired of it.  But no one will complain and say, “Hey, we were told this story last month.”  Because a vanishingly small number of donors will notice that the “story” was the same. 

There are types of stories that work better than others.  For instance, there’s a type of story that works best for appeals and e-appeals.  There’s a type of story that works best for newsletters and “report backs.” 

Again, you or your organization might get tired of the story types that work best for you.  But don’t let your organization’s boredom with any particular story type get in the way of creating effective communications for your donors.

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