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  • Writer's pictureValerie Davis

7 Tips to Spruce Up Your Storytelling and Inspire Giving

Spring is a time of renewal, growth and new opportunities. Therefore, this time of year is perfect motivation to review, assess, and retool your organization’s messaging. Take advantage of this season to inspire hope and generate support for your mission.

Storytelling is important because it connects the dots between what your organization does, why it’s important, and the impact that your supporters are making. Supporters include donors, funders, volunteers, and community partners.

Five components to a good story are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. A good story for nonprofits is compelling and engaging and builds a personal connection that steers the audience to see themselves as the hero. These essential elements of a good story are also important when crafting your organization’s messaging.

As you craft the message think about telling your story in terms of who you are helping, the need for your program/services (conflict), how the hero is involved in resolving the conflict, and the impact. Hint: the hero is not your organization when crafting a message to solicit money.

Also, it’s critical to know who your audience is, why you’re sending the message, and what you want the reader to do or learn. So, begin with your Call to Action (CTA) in mind – what is the purpose of this message? Is it an update, educational message, or intended to express gratitude to supporters?

Remember that not every message should be asking for money, as a best practice the 80/20 rule works well – Only 20% your messages should be an ask for money. So, it’s important to plan for that 80% where your goal should be to thank, inform, and generate interest and enthusiasm for your mission. Therefore, a good call to action for those other messages should be to visit your website for more information and include a link. Direct the link to land on a page where they can sign up for more information. Capturing contact information is vital to acquiring and cultivating donors.

7 tips for crafting a good message

1) Determine your medium – social media, e-blast, direct mail (hint: use a combination of all these)

2) Know your Audience – When using direct mail and eblast segment your audience and create messages that will appeal to them. Create different messages for segments such as new donors, volunteers, major donors, and prospects. Also, for your social media messages be aware that you may have very different audiences on your LinkedIn versus Facebook and so forth.

3) Make the Donor the Hero – use “you” language, and lead the reader to identify with and see themselves as the hero.

4) Time spent crafting a good story is well spent. Need a good story in order to craft messages that are engaging and compel the reader to perform your call to action.

5) Have a specific call to action—this can be two things, and as an example: You can help in two important ways 1) Make a Donation -include a give now button, and 2) Share this post with your friends on social media.

6) Edit the story to its vital components to fit the medium using. For instance, on Instagram will need an abbreviated version, so use the short video or picture with a compelling caption.

7) Use a visual or incorporate a short video -even better! Select captivating photos that convey the story and stir emotions.

In closing, using storytelling is a sure-fire way to engage your supporters and inspire giving. It’s a crucial piece to both donor acquisition and stewardship. Therefore, it is well worth your time and effort to craft compelling messages and build a plan that aligns your communications and marketing efforts with your development plan and revenue goals.

Valerie Davis

Philanthropy Focus

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