Please Tell Me a Story ...
I am about to write a direct-mail appeal for a nonprofit. It sent me two stories, each a paragraph long. And I am excited!
Why? In just these two short paragraphs, this organization packed in enough detail that I can tell my audience the story of two people being helped by the nonprofit. I can paint a vivid word picture that will engage your heart in the mission of the organization and (I think) make you want to be part of the solution it provides to people like Martha and Edith.
Whether your mission is helping people, animals or the environment, telling a story is critical to engaging potential donors — and turning them into committed supporters.
A great story for fundraising needs facts. But think of it as the Reader's Digest version. Don't get too bogged down, but don't assume your writer knows everything and can fill in the blanks, either.
For example, if you are helping people in a remote part of Africa, what kind of house does a typical family live in? Is it made of mud bricks, straw or bark? How far is it to the nearest source of water? Is that water polluted, dried up for months at a time, or cold and fresh?
If you're rescuing abused animals in Denver, what kinds of animals do you rescue? Are they usually very young, or do their ages span several years? What kind of condition are they in when you rescue them? How do you learn about their plight?
Too often, we're too close to the work we do so we forget that our donors don't know the important details of what we do. Even though we told them before, it's important to tell them again. Confusion is generally not a viable path to donating.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.