If measurement and analytics are the science of fundraising, what is the art?

Sharing stories.

As fundraisers and marketers, we spend a lot of time creating singular, point-in-time messages that are often quite tactical in nature. Rarely are these messages about a human or social impact outcomes, and they are generally not very memorable. Stories are. And according to Colette LaForce, chief marketing officer of AMD, sometimes telling a good story is as simple as replaying Star Wars in your mind.

The original Star Wars story is a classic tale that 99% of the people you meet over the age of 25 will know and remember. When you break it down, the story is quite simple. You have a problem statement, which is that the evil emperor plans take over the universe and create a horrible dictatorship that no one wants to live in. Naturally, there is a solution, which manifests itself in the form of a well-intentioned rebel army that wants to preserve freedom. The rebels are fundamentally disadvantaged because they have less technology, fewer people, and limited money. However, they do have two key differentiators that give them strength: the Jedi Knights and the power of the Force. And we all know the outcome of the story!

So when our team was struggling with storytelling, I asked them to replay Star Wars in their minds and outline the answers to these questions:

  • What is the problem that we are facing (the evil emperor)?

  • What solution could we offer to solve the problem (the rebels)?

  • What unique differentiators make our mission more likely to achieve success (Jedi Knights and the Force)?

  • What was the social outcome that would come from solving the problem (freedom for the universe)?

I believe marketing [and fundraising] can and should be viewed as a strategic partner inside all of our organizations—a partner capable of solving real-world problems through the effective marriage of art and science. Let’s embrace this perfect storm, tell a better story, and measure relentlessly.

And go watch Star Wars again!

Jono Smith is vice president of marketing at Event 360. You can find Jono on Google+Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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