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Storytelling Workouts for Year-End Fundraising

Guest Contributor
As End of Year Fundraising quickly approaches we've started to think of what you can do now to ensure a successful fundraising season. With so many EOY campaigns, one of the most powerful ways for donors to connect with your cause is through the power of storytelling. A good story resonates with the donor, connects them to your vision, creates a sense of urgency, and gives donors an outlet to take action. As you start to think about how your organization will tell your story this season we enlisted the advice of Vanessa Chase Lockshin, the creator of The Storytelling Nonprofit, to show us how we can stretch our storytelling muscles and get ready for year end!


As we round the corner to year-end fundraising season, fundraisers, campaigners, and comms folks are busily preparing to tap into this awesome opportunity for fundraising. Maybe you’re putting together your email calendar for December, planning out social media content, or even sprucing up your website to improve conversions. No matter what’s on your fundraising to do list this fall, there’s one must have that you can’t afford to leave off that to-do list – stories.

Yes, it’s 2018 and we are still talking about the power and benefits of storytelling. Stories (and narrative) are an opportunity for you to connect with your audience, communicate shared values, and catalyze your audience to donate. There are plenty of good reasons to tell stories, many of which can positively impact your bottom line.

Whether your organization is already using strategic storytelling or if you’re looking for ways to get started, this post is for you! I’ve put together a list of storytelling workouts for year-end fundraising that are designed to help you get your ducks in a row and use storytelling to its fullest potential.

Grab your sweat band and let’s get started!

15 Minute Storytelling Workouts

Audit the Last Email You Sent—Grab your red pen and look at the last fundraising email you sent to your list. Read through it and look for 1) a story of some kind (could be from the news or otherwise), 2) a clear theory of change, and 3) specific, tangible ask. These three components form the foundation of an email ask that is relevant, clear, and compelling. If you notice one of these pieces missing, take a few minutes to think about how you would improve the email.

Write a Social Media Post to Ask Your Audience to Share Their Stories—We know that news cycle stories are a powerful driver for donations, but of course they aren’t the only type of stories you could be telling. If you are looking to strengthen you Public Narrative model, you may want to look to your organization’s community for examples of Story of Self. Here’s a short case study of how Ultra Violet has done this.

30 Minute Storytelling Workouts

Customize the Donation Page to Reflect the Story—Want to improve your donation page conversion rates? Your landing page copy and images need to be consistent with your ask. As you plan out your December email calendar, think about your landing page needs. Take 30 minutes to write out what the headlines will be, any additional copy, and create a list of graphic needs.

Search the News for Stories—In 30 minutes you can scan recent news to look for news stories that your organization might be able to use for fundraising. Look for stories and moments that will push the right buttons for your audience and drive them to take action. You may even want to set up a Google Alert or two for future reference.

60 Minute Storytelling Workouts

Map Out Your Campaign Narrative—One of the best uses of your time as you prep for year-end giving is to map out your campaign narrative. This means knowing your key message, having a clear theory of change, being able to clearly articulate how donating makes a meaningful difference to that theory of change, and having anecdotes and episodic stories that support your narrative. This is the true leg work and doing it now will help you create a cohesive, organized campaign.

There are endless storytelling opportunities during year-end fundraising, and these are just a few ideas to get you started. Carve out time for your regular storytelling workout and you’ll see how consistency pays off by December 31.

For more from Vanessa check out The Storytelling Nonprofit


 A Nonprofit's Guide to Annual Giving Campaigns That Rock [DOWNLOAD]

Topics: nonprofit storytelling