Story Styles That Open Readers' Wallets, Part 1
In the fundraising world, there's been plenty of emphasis lately on using emotional stories in our messaging. By now, everyone understands that well-told stories engage readers, help them make emotional connections to our organizations and improve fundraising outcomes.
The question is no longer whether to tell stories in fundraising appeals, but which stories to tell and how to tell them.
Not all fundraising stories are created equal. There are as many ways to tell a story as there are storytellers. It's important to consider which story you want to use in a particular appeal or acquisition piece, and just as important to decide how you want to tell it.
Today, and for the next two weeks, we'll look at three story types that get readers' attention, keep them reading and inspire them to make generous gifts. Each has its merits and its challenges, and each has a place in your copywriting arsenal. Let's start with ...
Case studies. Case studies are stories that describe how your organization solved a problem. They're designed to be detailed and process-oriented. If you tell them right, readers will infer that, because you solved this problem so effectively, you'll have the same success solving similar ones in the future. Here's how such a story might start:
It was 2:00 in the morning when Tonya stood out in the cold pounding on our door. She and her daughter had fled their apartment where her boyfriend was in a murderous rage. We took her in, and gave her shelter for the night. The next day we moved her to one of our safe houses where she and her daughter could be out of danger.
Then we made sure she'd never have to go back to her old life of helplessness, dependency and fear. Tonya enrolled in our job training program, and worked with one of our counselors to learn self-esteem and independence ... etc.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.