By now, you should know that it's really important for your organization to have and be able to tell a compelling client story. The best way to articulate impact to your donors is to share a story of that impact. Are you giving women and their children a new start after escaping violence or protecting the last remaining white rhinos? Those are the stories you absolutely need to know and understand.
But there's another story that is almost always overlooked by organizations and it could unlock fundraising success - your donor's story.
Donors have their our journeys and their own reasons for giving. If you can understand and speak to their motivations, you can be much more effective in your fundraising. The more you know about your donor's hopes and desires for the world and the work you're doing it, the more effective your fundraising can be.
I'm in the middle of reading an incredible booked, called Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller and he clearly shows the reader how to craft a compelling story. Here are a few ways to apply the learnings from the book for you to craft a meaningful donor story.
understanding that your donor is the hero
In your client's story, your organization enables change, but your client is the hero. This is true of your donor's story. Your job is to place your organization as the guide to help your donor (the hero) change the world. This is a well documented approach, also known as Donor-Centered fundraising or #donorlove but it is so important to remember (and is easily forgotten). The best fundraising positions the donor as the hero. If you understand what change your donors want to create in the world, you can enable them to play that role. Unsure of what a hero and guide are? Think of your donor as Luke Skywalker and your organization as Yoda. Or your donor is Katniss Everdeen and your organization as Haymitch.
apply the seven elements of a story
According to Miller, "Here is nearly every story you see or hear, in a nutshell: A CHARACTER who wants something, encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS."
This simple framework works! Now, apply it to your donors. Your donor is the character. What problem are they facing? Do they want to eliminate poverty? Empower young people? Feel better about their own wealth? How can your organization be the guide that gives them a plan (donating) to avoid failure and end in success? The more you know about your donors (hint - you can do this by just talking to them and LISTENING) the better you can craft their story.
answer the three questions
Miller further identifies three crucial questions that you should be able to quickly answer:
1. What does the hero (your donor) want?
2. Who or what is opposing the hero getting what she wants?
3. What will the hero’s life look like if she does (or does not) get what she wants?
If you can tap into these insights, you will raise more money.