Wed, November 06 2013

What your year-end appeal is missing

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Writing •

Here at Network for Good, it’s the season for fundraising appeal reviews. As part of our Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, we look at year-end fundraising appeals for hundreds of nonprofits to help them be the best they can be for the busy giving season ahead. All too often, these appeals fall short of packing the emotional punch they need to spur donors to act.

While it’s definitely important to remember the key components of an effective fundraising appeal (a clear call to action, a sense of urgency, statements about what a donation will do), what will make your appeal really stand out is an attention-grabbing, emotionally compelling, authentic story. Your cause’s story is the heart and soul of your fundraising letter. It’s how your appeal will have a personality that allows you to connect with your donors and inspire them to give. Without it, your appeal will read like many other cookie cutter letters your supporters will receive this giving season.

To help you jump start your storytelling efforts, Working Narratives recently released a new guide, Storytelling and Social Change. The guide includes insight from storytelling heavy hitters like Andy Goodman and Marshall Ganz, as well as case studies featuring Ford Foundation and GlobalGiving.

If you feel stuck, the good people at Working Narratives offer some ideas to help you explore a narrative for your stories:

• Jot down a short list of favorite social-change stories you’ve heard, told, or participated in, and notes about what form the stories took and how they affected you.

• Write a story that illustrates how you think change happens and another story that tells of change happening in a very different way. Explore the differences in the characters, settings, conflicts, and endings.

While this resource focuses on the needs of foundations and grantmakers, all organizations can benefit from the tips and examples offered in the guide.  To download your free copy, visit the Working Narratives website.

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