3 things you need to know about storytelling

Sad news: stories aren’t magic in fundraising.

Sometimes they seem magic, but the truth is, the “magic” comes from stories well told.

Here are some great hints for telling stories well, from the MarketSmart blog, at How to develop a ‘character’ in your fundraising stories in 3 steps:

  1. Make it specific. Details that inform the readers’ senses are what make the difference between a living story and a second-hand account. Use concrete, specific details. Avoid abstractions.
  2. Make it simple. Sure, real life is complex. But fundraising that is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand always does better. You really can’t “educate” someone into giving. You get there by helping them believe there’s a problem and that their giving will help solve it.
  3. Make it empathetic. The post describes a study where people were twice as likely to donate to help “turtles” as to help “reptiles.” Make sure your stories are about empathetic people (or animals), and don’t major in the huge numbers of the problem — when you do that, you are giving would-be donors reasons not to give.


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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.