7 Storytelling Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors to Act

Storyteller thumbs up 198x300 7 Storytelling Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors to Act
Listen up: Have I got a story for you!

As a fundraising professional, relationship building with donors is an ongoing process and communication is an important part of that process. Stories are a great communications tool that you can use to tell donors about their impact in a tangible and easy to understand manner.

Storytelling seems to be everywhere these days. Non-profits are actively trying to use stories to engage their current and new donors. Is your non-profit trying to tap into the power of stories? Perhaps it’s been a positive experience for your organization. But maybe you have faced some challenges.

One of the biggest challenges with storytelling is being able to tell a great story. A story that really stands out from the pack and resonates with your donor audience. A story that, ultimately, compels action.

Today I want to share with you 7 rules for telling a better non-profit story.

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1 Big Donor Retention Secret: Giving is Not Always its Own Reward

maslow s hierarchy of needs 300x196 1 Big Donor Retention Secret: Giving is Not Always its Own Reward
What are you doing to give your donors the meaning they seek?

Donor needs vary and evolve, depending on where they are in their own life cycle and their life cycle with your nonprofit. Do you ever wonder how you might help them meet their needs? How you might reward them for giving?  You should — if you want to keep them as donors.

You may be familiar with Maslow’s “Theory of Human Motivation” where he breaks needs for human development and contentment down into steps that form a pyramid. Maslow suggests the basic human needs such as food, shelter, and sleep are required before you can pursue higher needs such as security, love and belonging, esteem and the need for self-actualization.

Sadly, just giving to charity doesn’t necessarily meet these higher-level needs. Donors may give out of guilt, fear, peer pressure (which doesn’t feel so good). Some give to be praised (meets esteem need, but only if you praise them). Some give to be accepted by peers (meets love & belonging need, but only if you offer opportunities to connect and feel loved)… and so forth. You see, giving is not always it’s own reward.

To create life-long donors imposes on your charity the obligation to do something proactive to fulfill your donor’s highest level needs.

Donors, like all human beings, are on a continual quest for meaning. It’s the existential search to be all that one can be. To feel self-actualized.

In non-psychological or theoretical terms, at the self-actualization pinnacle donors just feel darn good. They carry around a warm glow, representing the realization of their potential and inner peace.

This feeling is very powerful – and we human beings naturally seek it out. It’s one of reasons why even very poor give outsized proportions of their income to charity.

Another way to describe this is the search for meaning in life. For most people, meaning is deeply intertwined with community connections. Victor Frankl in his famous chronicle on the search for meaning wrote: love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Humans want to feel a sense of connection and a sense of purpose to life. Giving (time, money, and energy) is a central way that we strive to find meaning.

If your nonprofit doesn’t complete the exchange circuit for donors, their search for meaning gets cut short.

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4 Things Clothing Upcycling Can Teach Nonprofits about Donor Retention

Closet clothing 300x177 4 Things Clothing Upcycling Can Teach Nonprofits about Donor Retention
Stop discarding clothes (letting donors lapse); Treasure them (renew and upgrade).

I know this may sound silly, but I sometimes like to think of my donors as clothing.

Huh?

Well, shopping is one of my favorite activities so I think about clothing a lot. I think about the many ways I can use it, repurpose it, mix and match it, show it off and even share it with friends and family. I treasure my clothing, and have a great deal of difficulty letting go of any of it (yes, my closet is stuffed to the gills)!

So, how are donors like clothing?

  • They cover a lot of basic needs.
  • They keep you (aka your nonprofit) warm and cozy.
  • They enable you to get through different seasons.
  • They help you look good.
  • They help you show off your brand and strut your stuff.
  • They attract others to you.
  • They are a big part of the story of your life.
  • And you should have a lot of trouble letting go of them.

Unfortunately, most nonprofits are much too cavalier about letting go. It’s expensive. It’s a waste of time. It’s completely irresponsible if you care about your nonprofit’s future – so I want you to STOP IT!

4 Ways to Cherish and Hold on to Donors

  1. Stop Discarding Donors; Treasure Them
  2. Meaningfully Thank Donors; Do it a Lot
  3. Show Impact with Stories and Compelling Images
  4. Build the Relationship

In Part 1 of this article I’ll discuss the first two ways. The second two ways will be covered in Part 2.Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it All about Donors: Retention, Communications, Stewardship, Donor Centricity

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it All about Donors: Retention, Communications, Stewardship, Donor Centricity
Click it!

This week is all about your donors: keeping them; communicating with them, taking care of them and meeting them where they are. I’ve got several really useful articles for you. Not too many. It’s summer, after all! Plus, as always, some terrific upcoming learning opportunities for you.

Donor Retention
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Heed Maya Angelou to Retain More Donors

Thank you boy with card 246x300 Heed Maya Angelou to Retain More Donors
You made me feel special. Thank you for buying me shoes.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Respected American author, poet, dancer, actress, singer and civil rights spokesperson, Maya Angelou, knows a thing or two about what makes people tick. And when you’re endeavoring to keep more of your supporters, this is exactly what you must know too.

The Big Secret

Make people feel good. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple, yes? Common sense, yes? And yet, how many of you actively practice this in your daily life at work?Continue Reading

The Heart of Effective Major Donor Development: It’s Not Money

man holding heart 300x199 The Heart of Effective Major Donor Development: It’s Not Money
The heart of major donor development is demonstrating impact and showing gratitude. Continually.

Everyone wants to develop a major gifts program. Or to strengthen their existing major gifts program. Why? Because they want to raise more money.

If you approach major gifts development solely from this perspective you’ll ultimately fail.

You might raise more money for a little while. But over the long-term you’ll lose more support than you gain. Because it’s not just about money.

Successful, lifelong major donor relationships are about two things: Continue Reading

Borrow from Jimmy Fallon to Keep More Donors

Time for love 300x249 Borrow from Jimmy Fallon to Keep More Donors
Set aside some time to show gratitude – you’ll be doubly rewarded!

TYIF!

If you’re a fan of late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, you know he sets aside time every Friday night to write thank you letters. I think of it as “TYIF” (“Thank You It’s Friday). Jimmy’s notes are usually creative and thought-provoking, like “Thank you, emails that say “You have successfully unsubscribed from these emails,” for completely missing the point. One of his band members plays some soothing music that’s conducive to thank you writing – after a while, the music alone is enough to get you in a grateful, thank-you-writing mood!

What if your nonprofit did the same thing?!Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it: Online Fundraising, Donor Engagement, Social Media, Writing + Free Stuff

Click it check mark 300x225 Clairity Click it: Online Fundraising, Donor Engagement, Social Media, Writing + Free Stuff

Click-it!

The Click-it is jam-packed with meaty articles this week – lots of stuff you can really use from some of my favorite writers/fundraising and marketing communications experts. Plus, of course, some fun stuff. And at the end you’ll find some great opportunities to get amazingly high-quality training, and it won’t cost you a dime! Continue Reading

How to Deal with Disgruntled Donors: Don’t Waste Valuable Complaints

Complaints button 300x249 How to Deal with Disgruntled Donors: Don’t Waste Valuable Complaints

Don’t waste valuable donor communications — whatever form they take!

I’m going to tell you to do exactly what I do.

Don’t ignore a single disgruntled supporter. Express compassion and contrition.

If someone takes the time to tell you they’re unhappy, that means they care. They’re connected to you. They want something from you, and you’re disappointing them.

This is your golden opportunity to get inside your donor’s head and find out what your supporter really cares about!

Don’t blow this person off. Instead, Continue Reading

Losing Too Many Donors? 5 No-Brainer Ways to Keep Them

 

Specific gifts 300x264 Losing Too Many Donors? 5 No Brainer Ways to Keep Them

Thoughtfully thank donors for their specific gifts if you want their continued, thoughtful giving

When it comes to improving donor retention, I often try to guide organizations through the process of shifting their thinking – and the culture of their organization – in the direction of gratitude rather than greediness toward their donors.

What’s important about making this philosophical shift is that it forces you to think very specifically about what you’re grateful for.

You aren’t simply asking your donors for money. Similarly, you aren’t thanking your donors for money.Continue Reading