It occurred to me the other day- probably after I was making my 3rd or 4th donation to the very same friend (and cause that she supports)- that we, as event fundraisers, place a lot of emphasis on making sure our emails are perfectly crafted to motivate our participants. That they know all about the tools accessible to be good at fundraising. We encourage them to use social media. And to get their friends to join them- not just in making a donation, but on event too. These are all important aspects of event preparedness. But how much do we teach our participants about the art of storytelling and how to inspire people to donate through the power of our written words?
The very reason that I have supported my friend Molly (confusing, I know. That’s why in our inner circle I’m known as “Good Molly”) is because she is persuasive and passionate every time she is looking for support. She clearly outlines why this cause is important to her and beautifully puts into words why it needs to be important to me- and all her prospective donors- too. Her latest fundraising request ended with this:
Every donation means more girls have access to this life-changing program, regardless of her families’ ability to pay. Together we can build stronger, more confident girls that help shape our communities. Let’s do this!
By the time I was done reading her fundraising letter I thought “Yeah! Sign me up!” I didn’t think about the previous donations I had made this year. Or the fact that I had already gone over my monthly allotment for charity in my personal budget. Instead, I went directly to the link she provided and made a donation. Again. Ultimately, it’s the way Molly inspired me with her words that caused me to take action and forget about my self-imposed monetary barriers.
The same rings true for my friend Ruth-Anne who has been participating in the same bike ride for the past two years. I already can’t wait to get her fundraising letter for the 2014 ride because I learn so much from the motivational and personal way in which she communicates and how much I’m educated on the organization she chooses to support. In this year’s fundraising letter she said:
I believe deeply in the power of an education, the importance of access to health care, and the capability of women to build businesses that provide for a better future for their children. So often, what these resourceful women and girls need are the most basic of tools to make their dreams possible.
Similar to how I felt upon reading Molly’s request for a donation, I felt equally inspired by Ruth-Anne’s passionate language. I wanted to be on her team of donors and clicked on the link she provided to make it official.
In talking with Ruth-Anne, she said, “Storytelling can be the most magical part of our pre-event experience.” I agree whole-heartedly. A compelling and inspiring story about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it can make the difference between getting a donation and losing a donor. To make the story even more impactful, participants need to focus on how donating will make something better. I promise it’ll help attract and motivate more donors!
How powerful your words are, and how impactful your story is, can be a huge leg up especially for repeat participants. It provides them with an opportunity to share why the event they keep returning to or the cause they continue to support is still important to them. Here is the platform to show how far the cause and organization have come and how much has changed for each participant since they first started participating. As even fundraisers, we know that why someone starts with an event and why they continue participating can often times be totally different reasons. Participants need to use their words and stories to reengage and re-inspire their donors.
For any participant who is concerned about being able to fundraise, your organization needs to be willing to invest the time in helping them choose their words and craft their story. Powerful storytelling and inspirational writing inspires action. Which, at the end of the day, is exactly how we want our prospective donors to feel- moved to action. Using carefully crafted, personal, authentic language in our fundraising asks needs to be communicated as a key part of the recipe to successful fundraising. This is what will push the needle to impact the fundraising dollars our participants raise.
“Fast Fundraising Tips” blog posts are featured monthly. A passionate advocate of event fundraising and customer service, Molly Fast has been working as an event fundraiser since 2002. As the daughter of a 13-year breast cancer survivor, cancer has hit very close to home and Molly has dedicated herself to helping others see their potential in making this world a better place. At Event 360, Molly combines her love of customer service with event fundraising. When she’s not taking photos in Santa Monica, where she lives with her husband and their black lab Clancy, Molly can be found wandering around Ireland. You can find Molly on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.