How to write stories that work in fundraising

You’ve heard it before: Use stories in your fundraising; it works.


And, chances are, you’ve knocked yourself out getting stories and seen it not work. Even though you told a story!


Some reasons that happens:



  • It might be that the offer, the specific call to action, just isn’t attractive to your donors. In that case, the best story in the world isn’t going to make your fundraising effective.
  • Maybe the story is lame, boring, or off-point.
  • Or maybe you have a good offer and a good story — but it’s not written right.

They-laughed.jpgano

A recent post at Neuromarketing looks at what in stories gets our brains going (Your Brain on Stories). It’s not just any old thing you put on paper.


Researchers looked into people’s brains with fMRI while people read various stories:



… researchers were able to observe which parts of their brain were activated as the subjects read different elements…. For example, a particular area of the brain ramped up when readers were thinking about intent and goal-directed action, but not meaningless motion. Motor neurons flashed when characters were grasping objects, and neurons involved in eye movement activated when characters were navigating their world.

When the brain lights up, that’s more involvement. Do the stories you tell have those things?



  • Intent
  • Goal-directed action
  • People grasping objects
  • People moving around

These elements can be part of just about any story — if you choose to include them. They’d be just as easy to overlook.


Comments

4 responses to “How to write stories that work in fundraising”

  1. Jeff,
    I enjoyed reading about the science that backs up what we experience in our writing and marketing results. Thanks for sharing the source to this study. I also smiled when I saw the image of the famous direct marketing piano ad you chose to illustrate your point. It’s a true classic.

  2. Jeff,
    I enjoyed reading about the science that backs up what we experience in our writing and marketing results. Thanks for sharing the source to this study. I also smiled when I saw the image of the famous direct marketing piano ad you chose to illustrate your point. It’s a true classic.

  3. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Nice timing, Jeff. This post sent me right back to my cobbler’s bench with a new set of tools. I was having trouble bringing a case to a satisfactory conclusion — and Neuromarketing showed me why.

  4. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Nice timing, Jeff. This post sent me right back to my cobbler’s bench with a new set of tools. I was having trouble bringing a case to a satisfactory conclusion — and Neuromarketing showed me why.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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