Guest Author: Rasheeda Childress, Associations Now
Does storytelling in fundraising really work? Associations that have used it successfully say it requires the right kinds of stories told in a way that inspires.
There is no shortage of blogs, books, or conferences advising associations to add stories to their fundraising if they want donations to soar. But is it really that simple? A fundraising Field of Dreams: Tell a story, and dollars will come.
“I think there is a lot of talk about storytelling and the art and science of storytelling,” says Susan Waldman, chief marketing and communications officer at Meals on Wheels America. “We will always use compelling personal stories when we want to make a financial ask.”
Vanessa Chase Lockshin, president of the consulting firm The Storytelling Non-Profit, says stories are effective in fundraising because they help connect a donor to the organization. “With a good story, there is opportunity to communicate the shared set of values that can draw the donor in,” she says. “How do we hook people in? Telling interesting stories is a place to start.”
But stories are just that: a starting place. Associations and experts using storytelling say it’s important to know how to find stories, the key elements to include, and how to bring it all together so donors open their wallets. It is not quite a fundraising field of dreams, but if the stories are built right and relationships are created with donors, the funds may come.