Storytelling for Fundraising: Engaging Donors to Boost Year-End Fundraising

Storytelling for Fundraising: Engaging Donors to Boost Year-End Fundraising

March 17, 2020

Over a quarter of nonprofits studied by NonProfit Hub reported that 26-50% of their fundraising success can be attributed to year-end giving. Before you start planning your year-end fundraising campaign in early fall and begin executing year-end asks in November, now is the time to begin mapping out how to approach your year-end activities. 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. By leveraging storytelling for fundraising, you can find effective ways to galvanize your donors into giving.

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. So, by employing storytelling for fundraising tactics, you can more effectively get your message across and cut through the clutter. Let’s explore why and how nonprofit storytelling can boost your efforts.

Why Storytelling for Fundraising is Effective for Year-End Communication

1. Ethos

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.

A story also 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. Showcase Communities Being Influenced By Your Work

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. Unearth Testimonials from Community Members

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.

3. Bring Attention to Ongoing Projects

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.

4. Highlight the Real Heroes of Your Stories—Your Donors

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. So, 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.

Galvanizing Donors through Personalized Outreach

Uncover more about the power of personalized storytelling from Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Jay Scott—a featured keynote speaker at the 2019 WE Prosper Summit.


We hope these reasons for leveraging storytelling for fundraising help boost your efforts as the year progresses.


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