Ancient ingredients for stories that motivate donors

Nearly all stories since ancient times have the same basic ingredients. When you use those ingredients, the stories you tell are more resonant, interesting and thus effective.

Here are the basic elements of a story, from Clairification, at Successful Storytelling: 5 Foolproof Ways to Raise Money:

  1. Premise. (What’s going on and who’s involved. This is the set-up that shows people what the story is “about.”
  2. Conflict. Start with action.
  3. Conflict escalation.
  4. Climax.
  5. Resolution.

A fundraising story works even better if you separate #4 and #5 from the ask — allow the donor enter the story by giving.

Their gift becomes the climax, and when you thank them in a specific and detailed way, that is the resolution.


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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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About the blogger

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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