The Power of Story

10 tips for gathering compelling appeal resource

Good resource is essential for good fundraising.

Lack of compelling story leaves fundraising efforts in a bind. Fund appeals that lack a story (with certain exceptions, e.g. emergency appeals) tend to be either too heady or too focused on your organization.

Giving is emotional and story connects donors not only with your organization but more importantly with the men, women, and children that your organization serves. Good story removes the middleman (YOU) and highlights for the donor the specific impact that THEY can make on your mission.

Story lends credibility and emotion to your appeal. And credibility and emotion are essential elements in getting people to act. Story takes an abstract problem and makes it real and concrete.

Good resource will enable you to provide a clear statement of the offer. It allows you to speak directly to the interests of your donors. Not your board or your staff, but your donors. Here’s a helpful list of what to seek out in an effective story.

  1. Get the names and ages of all people involved.
  2. Get photos of people in the story.
  3. Look for that unique hook that makes this story unusual.
  4. Get the subject’s unique take on the story in their own words.
  5. Try to understand how the specific story relates to the culture and history of the people.
  6. Get an idea of what daily life is like for the people involved — and the impact of their current needs.
  7. Ask what they think about the problem.
  8. Ask how they feel about the problem. What emotions are involved?
  9. Ask them what the solution to the problem should be.
  10. Ask them how they would like to be involved in the solution.