Storytelling is the most powerful way to engage donors and supporters in your charity’s work. Good storytelling can connect people emotionally to what your charity does in ways that cannot be achieved through other means. Storytelling brings your work to life.
We are made for stories
Human beings have been storytellers for eons. When we engage with stories we internalize them and they propel us to action. It is one of the best ways for fundraisers to motivate potential donors to become current donors.
Your website is the ideal storytelling platform
Your website is one of the first places donors go to learn about you and keep up with your work. When you lure them into your world with a great story it can be a powerful and persuasive interaction.
Ready to get started? Here are three pages on your website that are ideal opportunities for interlacing your content with great storytelling:
This is usually the first place potential and current donors land when they search for you. Your content really needs to shine because you only have a few seconds to entice them to stay with you.
We all need a hero!
A compelling way to tell a story on your homepage is to prominently feature a "hero." The hero is usually a donor or a beneficiary whose life has been positively impacted since becoming involved with your charity.
Donor as hero – engage current donors and solicit their stories about why they’re involved, and how it has impacted their life. A well-crafted story can inspire potential donors to also want to be part of this experience.
Beneficiary as hero – engage your frontline staff and beneficiaries for great impact stories. These stories demonstrate how a hero has overcome a challenge or a conflict as a result of your charity’s support.
In either scenario find a story that is symbolic or representative of many experiences and couch it within the broader story of your charity. Remember to keep it succinct and positive! You want to use good news stories because they leave people feeling hopeful, not hopeless.
2. Your blog
A charity’s blog is an excellent platform for day-to-day storytelling. It can highlight the beautiful little victories that take place in the quiet moments of the day. Sometimes the greatest stories are the smallest.
Shareable is golden
Ensuring your charity is in front of the eyes, ears and hearts of donors keeps them engaged with your work. When your blog is shared, your donor reconnects with you and potentially introduces your organization to a new audience.
3. About Us
Despite its name, this page actually isn’t all about you; it’s about your beneficiaries. Crafting your core story around your beneficiary as the hero and your charity as the guide is powerful, empowering and inspiring for all.
Your charity’s story
The writing of this section requires thoughtful reflection about your charity. The story you tell on this page is your core story: the one that informs the rest. Be sure it is well-thought-out and well-written.
Sometimes refreshing or creating your story requires getting to know your charity all over again.
Throw away your Mission, Vision & Values!
Okay, maybe don’t throw them away! Just mentally set them aside. Sometimes we get stuck in our language and need to free ourselves from it in order to find our stories.
Start by asking the following questions as conversations starters with staff and stakeholders:
Listen closely and you will be able to extract golden nuggets of insight about the work your charity does.
Of course nothing is more inspiring than hearing about your organization’s impact. At every opportunity collect stories from your frontlines. These can be the most compelling stories of all.
Putting it all together
The key to success in this process is to ensure that each of these pages is well written. No matter how compelling the story is, if it’s written poorly it will never impact the reader. Invite staff and stakeholders to read your work before it’s published on your website. Be open to feedback and criticism, and make edits ruthlessly. Get help if you need it. Then write and rewrite until you’re satisfied.
It will take time, skill and effort to create these pages but when your website is infused with great storytelling you create endless opportunities to engage, motivate and inspire your donors.
Tina de los Santos is an engagement specialist, writer and the owner of LURE Communications. Tina loves helping businesses and non-profits build authentic relationships with their clients and supporters, by capturing their best stories and transforming them into engaging and vibrant written content. In her spare time Tina can be found baking sweet treats or running the trails around her small-town home. (Running balances the baking.J) Tina gets around! You can connect with her wherever you would like: