The art of storytelling to convince your donors
Storytelling, as its name suggests, aims to tell a story to your donors in order to better convince them and get them to support your cause. It’s very simple to apply what most of us have learned in elementary school!
WHY USE STORYTELLING?
Everyone loves stories. It is a simple and convincing way to explain a situation or problem, especially if you use the right words to enthrall your audience. We want people to feel concerned and touched by our cause, to have a clear idea of the situation we are presenting. It is also a non-invasive and non-aggressive approach simply demonstrating a situation in which your cause or donors have made a difference. This way, you can use a playful and attractive setting to arouse emotions and explain your needs to your target audience.
The narrative model
A simple and effective model to use when telling your story.
You introduce your characters and the situation in which they find themselves.
Marie is a 36-year-old single mother who lives with her 2 children in Montreal. Marie is not rich, but she can pay for everything and give her children what they need.
The conflict or situation disrupting the initial equilibrium and affecting your characters.
Like every morning before going to work, Marie goes to school to drop off her children Léa, 6 years old and Étienne, 8 years old. When she arrives in front of the business where she works, she notices that her colleagues are gathered outside the door. Marie feels that something is wrong. She rushes to join her colleagues and the news is: all employees are laid off right now, the company having declared bankruptcy.
Plot development of events
At this stage, you explain how the person lives with the consequences of the triggering event and the actions he or she takes to deal with them. Create emotional connection with your audience!
A month has passed since Marie's layoff. She got her last pay of about 15 hours worked, that is all. No compensation was issued by her employer, for whom she had been working for 15 years. She now receives an unemployment benefit, but it barely covers her rent and current bills. Marie now takes the bus, unable to make the payments on her car, she had to get rid of it. There will be no summer holidays this year, Marie's meagre budget barely allowing her to put food on the table. The school year is fast approaching and the list of supplies needed for her two children is much longer than she thought. Marie feels helpless and discouraged, wherever she applies she lacks the necessary training. It' s no longer living, it's surviving.
The final action that improves the characters' situation or solves the problem.
Overwhelmed and following the advice of a friend, Marie decided to go to the Centre pour femmes La Colombe to talk to a counsellor about her situation. The lady understands her difficulties very well and informs her that she can get help from a volunteer to find a job, that she can get free food, school supplies and clothing for her children. The organization can also offer activities to her children without having to pay for registration or equipment.
The final situation, equilibrium is restored.
After two months and with the help of La Colombe, Marie finally found a job that offers her even better conditions than her last job. Her children have returned to school with all the necessary supplies and they attend karate classes offered by the centre once a week. La Colombe truly saved Mary from her misery.
To end well: the call to action
The purpose of your storytelling is of course to get the support of your interlocuter. You must use this story to encourage the person to make a donation, participate in your fundraising activity, get involved as a volunteer, etc.
In this example we could have said:
Our organization needs your support to help hundreds of women in Marie's situation. Donate now.
Here is a testimonial video made for Moisson Montreal's " La Faim des vacances " campaign in 2016. It tells the story of a father who needs the support of the food bank to feed his entire family. (Video in French only)
CENTRE JEUNESSE DE MONTRÉAL foundation
Storytelling can also be very relevant for your solicitation messages, whether they are sent by mail or email. Here is an example of a letter shared in a public e-mail and in donation solicitation letters during the 2017 " La bonne étoile " holiday campaign.
Do you use storytelling to bring your fundraising campaigns to life? For more information or to get help integrating storytelling into your fundraising efforts, contact our experts!