"Mommy, Will You Tell Me a Story?"
But what’s either forgotten or ignored is that telling a story engages a prospective buyer for a longer period of time, and the longer you engage the customer, the better chance you have to make a sale.
In other words, to apply this to nonprofits, the decision to make a contribution to your charity is a process in the donor’s mind. First, the donor has to recognize the problem … then has to understand a solution … and then has to realize that your organization, if the donor helps you, can solve the problem.
But just how do you get prospective donors to understand the problem? Certainly not by bombarding them with three paragraphs of numerical proof that your organization is really, really good. That approach fails to engage the reader.
Just start telling stories
Perhaps it’s time you stop fighting human nature and just start telling stories. It should be a real story with a real person’s name. Or it could be a story that’s true, but you use an alias for your character, and you tell your reader that right up front.
Or the story could represent a dire situation, based on representative case histories. And again, you say that right up front in the story. There’s no dishonesty in that. No deceit. Your story becomes a miniature of the entire work of your charity.
So just when in the letter do you start your story? The first paragraph!
A lot of writers feel obliged to work their way toward the story and throw in several paragraphs of warm-up copy. But unfortunately, the reader might just flip the letter aside and go on to something else before ever getting intrigued by the story that’s buried farther down in the copy.
This isn’t just a theory. It’s been tested. Many times. The story is far more important than your case history and rationale, and facts and figures.