Leverage Storytelling to Boost Year-End Fundraising

Leverage Storytelling to Boost Year-End Fundraising

September 19, 2018
Sharanya Venkatesh

Are you a fundraiser for a cause or advocacy group that supports human rights, animal rights, or sustainability? Then you know that year-end giving can be crucial to your fundraising success.

Over a quarter of nonprofits studied by NonProfit Hub reported that 26-50% of their fundraising success can be attributed to year-end giving. A majority of nonprofits begin planning in October to execute year-end asks and marketing in November. Now is the time to get a head start on year-end activities and kick your fundraising plans into high-gear starting right now!

Getting started can definitely be a challenge. Several organizations struggle with understanding the right way to communicate their year-end ask. Once you have identified your donor or prospect list with the highest potential, it is important to communicate with them effectively.

Most nonprofits send two touches at the most during this season in order to avoid overwhelming their prospects. While this frequency may be enough to get their attention, you have to ensure that your message does not get lost in the clutter.

Employing storytelling tactics can be a more effective way to get your message across and cut through the clutter.

Why Storytelling is Effective for Year-End Communication

  1. Emotional Appeal– It all comes down to logic vs. emotion. An emotional appeal is more likely to be memorable. Prospects are surrounded by logic and it is easy for them to rationalize their way out of making a year-end contribution. Evoking an emotion makes them feel more compelled to make a difference to the community or animals being affected.
  2. Empathy– A story has the power to humanize your cause. Stories about animal rescue, preservation, or community upliftment have the ability to generate empathy in your prospects. They can find themselves relating to your story, making your year-end ask much stronger.
  3. Narrative Form– A story has dips and curves, a before and an after making it gripping for its readers or listeners. If you have a strong opening, you are more likely to keep your prospect engaged during your communication.
  4. Imagery– Words can create strong mental images, better yet they can be supported by actual images of the cause. Images make for a more visual appeal and visuals make messages more memorable, therefore creating a lasting impact.

Now that we understand the ‘whys’ of storytelling for fundraising, we need to understand the ways in which we can ensure that your communication makes the lasting impact that can resonate with a donor even after he or she has engaged with your message.

How to Optimize Storytelling to Boost your Year-End Fundraising

People tend to be more emotional around the holidays. This means that they are also more likely to feel generous during this season. The following ways will help ensure that your communication appeals to their spirit of generosity in the right manner.

  1. Communities- First and foremost, focus on the communities impacted. If your sustainability efforts have impacted the health of a particular community, if your organization has provided a platform or voice for a marginalized group of people, or if your impact has changed the lives of animals for the better; tell the story from their perspective.
  2. Authenticity- Use real images in your stories, be authentic. Use a voice that fits with your organization and its vision. Stock images or facts and figures have a way of taking away from the impact of your story.
  3. Testimonials- Take narratives from impacted communities to the next level by including actual testimonials from community members. Tell their stories in a way that showcases their lives before and after the impact of donations. Testimonials can add to the authenticity of your message. Using video can be especially powerful here as it can increase the level of engagement with the storyteller.
  4. Work in Progress- Even if you have projects that are still in process, share this with your prospects. Show them how far you have come, how much of a difference you have made. Include them in your plans, this is a great way to make an appeal. This provides a platform for you to show your prospects how their donations can help you get closer to your goal. Work in progress can create a sense of urgency in your prospects, especially when you tie your goals to end-of-year deadlines.
  5. Find a Hero- Telling the story from the perspective of impacted communities can be very strong. However, another technique for year-end asks is making your prospect the hero of the story. This can be used to show past donors the impact of their contributions and the potential difference that a future donation could make. Showcasing them as a central figure can prove to be inspirational. Donors gain great satisfaction from acknowledgment, this can be heightened during the holiday season, making them a hero and acknowledging their impact can help crystallize your message in an extremely effective way.

We hope these reasons for leveraging storytelling and our best practice tips help boost your Year-End Fundraising.

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