How to tell a fundraising story that resonates
Sit back and relax. We have a tale to share about what it takes to tell a great story that will take your school’s fundraising to the next level.
Storytelling is a unique, human quality that gives us a sense of connection and understanding. A good story can make us come alive in ways that no other method of information sharing can. In fact, there’s a science to storytelling. And your school fundraisers can benefit from it.
Stories and words activate different parts of our brain—and not just the language-processing parts, but other regions that help to bring the story to life as a lived experience. When a person can envision or imagine the story, they have a stronger connection to it. And if that story is about a cause or problem that needs help to succeed, people are more inclined to support it.
Here’s a real-world impact of storytelling on fundraising
Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), a nonprofit in the UAE learned of a little boy with leukemia who couldn’t continue treatments because his family couldn’t afford them. So, FoCP stepped in and with effective storytelling, the group not only raised the full amount in a few months, they exceeded it by nearly $30k. Now, that’s the power of storytelling.
So, what does it take to tell a compelling story?
For starters, stories need a beginning, middle and end. But to really connect with your reader on an emotional level, you need a few additional elements.
A good protagonist or main character
To feel invested in your story, the audience will want to get to know the main character. This could be your child, the group you’re raising money for or even your school. Share what makes the character tick or what makes them happy. And, of course, make it as interesting as you can for your audience. We’ll touch on that in a minute.
Talk about a conflict or problem
It’s important to show that the happiness or bright future for your character is at risk. In this case, St. Paul’s, a small private school in a historic building is losing students to a newer school with a state-of-the-art computer lab. The parents love St. Paul’s, but they want their children to have better opportunities. If the school can upgrade its computer room, the parents will keep their children enrolled.
Include the donor in the solution
This is where you bring in the donor and how they can help. In the case of St. Paul’s, the Parent Auxiliary Committee held a product fundraiser with proceeds going toward networking upgrades. When presenting donors with items, they told their story and let buyers (donors) know that every purchase would help.
Create impact with imagery
Remember making the story interesting to the audience? Videos and pictures can quickly make an incredible impact and convey emotion that resonates with your audience.
Charity Water excels at this in their storytelling, so take a look at the content the organization puts out. Then, look at your stories and see how you can apply those techniques to your fundraising efforts.
It’s important to note: While including photos and videos can elevate or even tell a story, the privacy and safety of children should come first.