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When fundraising for your nonprofit, a compelling story is critical for engaging donors and generating support for your cause.

How can your nonprofit most effectively tell YOUR stories and land more BIG donations?

6 Keys to a Donation-Inspiring Story

Here’s how to ensure every single one of your nonprofit’s stories really hits home with your donors. Your nonprofit’s stories should be:

  1. Emotional, compelling, specific, and interesting
  2. Focused on the needs of the population-served, rather than the needs of the organization itself
  3. Contain elements of good storytelling, including background, protagonist, and conflict
  4. Be brief, but engaging
  5. Be outcome-based
  6. End with a call to action or a resolution

That last one is key: Stories on the web should always include a call-to-action button, offering donors a way to help NOW, at the very moment they’re most inspired by your organization’s stories.

Let’s go over a generic example…

Which Story is More Compelling?

Turn Your Nonprofit’s Stories into Best Sellers“Happy Tails shelter feeds and cares for hundreds of dogs, but needs more funding. Many of the dogs need veterinary care and expensive treatment; plus, we need to cover costs incurred for shelter, food and staff. The building is very old and falling apart. Generous donations can help save many more dogs and keep the shelter doors open.”

–OR–

“Bailey, this tiny Maltese, was found in an abandoned lot—cold, alone and terrified. Our Happy Tails volunteers lured him out with gentle coaxing and bites of cheeseburger. It was obvious the little dog had been hit by a car. Through our benevolent donors, we were able to repair Bailey’s leg and help him find a family to love him forever. Donations like yours give animals like Bailey a second chance. Last year we found homes for 230 animals like Bailey, but there are still many more animals to save. Won’t you help today?”

The second story talks about the needs of the target population and gives examples of donor dollars at work. There’s a clear background, a protagonist and a conflict. The story is brief, but emotional and engaging. Before and after pictures could accompany a story to put a real face to the name. You’ll notice the story also provides a measurable outcome and ends with a strong call to action.

Remember, regardless of the type of your nonprofit: This isn’t about your needs as an organization. Nonprofits run lean, and by their very nature, they’re not known for luxurious amenities. Donors know you have overhead costs, but they really want to believe their dollars are directly helping your target population and cause.

Keep your story focused. Remember, you story is NOT  your mission statement—this is a way to warm your donors’ hearts (and open their wallets)!

Get Inspired…and Share Your Stories!

No matter your organization’s focus or target audience, you should have a set of go-to stories at all times. Keep a story folder on your desk, on your desktop, or in your notepad, and jot down three or four stories that truly reflect the impact your organization has had on at least one life. Update your story list regularly as you hear about great things that happen because of your organization.

Tell your story everywhere. Open your emails with a story. When you meet with a potential funder, tell your story. Tell your story on your website and create videos to share on your Facebook page and on other social media outlets. Put the story on your blog. Ask for testimonials, and use them on your promotional materials. Spreading your story will ensure both your story and your organization rise to the top of the “best seller” list.

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