The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference – Where Stories Take Flight – reminds us of all the reasons we stress using storytelling to build emotional connections with donors and supporters (here’s a little refresher in case you missed it). Speaker Leah Eustace, a fundraising professional, said it perfectly:
“Our brains are helpless against the gravitational pull of a good story.”
People are storytelling creatures who are wired to connect. While facts are critical, storytelling brings them to life. We feel emotional when we read someone else’s story and are often compelled to help. Stories help individuals understand and connect with the mission of an organization and gain appreciation for the work it does in the community.
Here are some new storytelling tips from the conference:
Balance: Find the right balance of details in your story. Don’t use so many details that your story can’t be universal. The best stories are the ones that readers can insert themselves into, because ultimately, the story isn’t about your organization, it’s about the donor. Tell your supporters simple, heartfelt stories about how they can change lives. Donors care about and want to fund outcomes, not processes. Put simply: don’t get bogged down by the details.
Focus: The most successful stories are about one person. It is much easier for people to make a connection when a story focuses on a single individual facing a tangible problem. Don’t lose the story by using big numbers and abstract concepts. Make donors feel something and connect with your story’s protagonist.
Frame the Data: According to Peter Drury, director of corporate and foundation relations at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a conference speaker, providing context is key when data and facts enter the story.
Don’t lead with the statistics. When you use data, use it well. Share one data point and frame it in a way so it makes sense and enhances your story instead of drawing attention away from the emotional connection. In the end, people remember the emotion, not the facts. More important than donors knowing your exact facts is that they care and understand why their support matters.
Interested in learning more about how to reach donors and boost fundraising? Download the Nonprofit’s Guide to Growing Donor Engagement With Storytelling.