Influence Donors Through Effective Storytelling
CASE District I wishes to thank BCG Connect for their generous support as the 2019 diamond sponsor of the conference’s Thursday morning keynote and development program track. BCG Connect has supported CASE DI for seven years.
As development professionals, you aim to successfully influence how your audience thinks and feels to get their support for your organization. A key component of reaching and influencing your audience through creative direct marketing efforts is by storytelling.
Once upon a time in a…
…college far away, there lived development professionals who sent appeals after Labor Day.
…private school far away, there lived development professionals who were getting appeals ready for their next Giving Day.
…university far away, there lived development professionals who were starting to think about Giving Tuesday.
No matter what type of organization you’re a part of, having a consistent story for your brand is key.
No, you don’t have to be Dr. Seuss.
No, you don’t have to be Nicholas Sparks.
No, you don’t have to be Stephen King.
Yes, you do need to have your own story.
One of the first things to ponder is, “How am I going to make sure my story consistently connects through each platform that we send something out?” Well, it all comes back to having a strategic annual giving marketing plan. By having this plan, it’s easy to map out your storyboard and the messages you would like to send throughout the year, the channels you’d like to send them through, and when you plan on sending them.
Storytelling is strategic, especially when it comes to fundraising. It does not simply mean that you must get numerous stories from people saying how the organization had an impact on them and send those out through various channels. This can be a great tactic for some organizations, but every organization’s story is different.
Here are some other ideas that might spark your storytelling muse:
Listening: Before developing your story, you need to listen to the stories of your donors. Listening helps you truly understand donors and what part(s) of your organization are near and dear to their hearts. It can help you align your story with theirs. When crafting an ask with this information in mind, you are more likely to relate to them and convert them to loyal donors. Take the time to listen to a handful of your potential donors and learn about what’s most important to them – you might want to think about incorporating a survey into your campaign, which can allow you to learn a lot more about your donors than you already know.
Values: An organization may have a set of 3-5 values that are core elements that support the vision of the organization. If your focus of the year is on the organization’s core values and mission, think about how you’re going to get that message across throughout the year. An idea could be to feature a different value on each appeal and incorporate a quote or story that correlates with that value. This not only shows how important values are to the organization, but it also enables you to remain consistent throughout the year and strengthen your emotional connection with potential donors.
Photos: One of the most common English idioms is, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos can go an extremely long way when storytelling. It gives a visual to the audience of what you want them to see and helps support how you want them to feel. Depending on the type of appeal being sent out, you can incorporate a photo that is indeed worth a thousand words, in addition to a powerful message that is consistent with the organization’s story. Photos are a great way of increasing an emotional bond with a potential donor and influencing that person to donate.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, this blog post is quite repetitive using the word, ‘Consistency.’” It is! Consistency is vital to incorporating storytelling into your fundraising efforts. When telling your story, remember these three things:
- Listen to your donors and create a story for your organization that your donors want to support.
- Build an emotional bond with your donors and make your donors feel a certain way when they receive your appeal.
- Tell your story consistently throughout the year through creative direct mail appeals.
…And the storytelling fundraisers lived happily ever after!
To learn more about how BCG Connect can help you engage with your donors and consistently deliver your story through creative direct marketing initiatives, connect with us!
BCG Connect specializes in helping clients with their fundraising initiatives through the development and execution of creative direct marketing programs. Reaching the right people with an effective message has never been more important and we understand that. We partner with clients to provide a personalized approach to break through the clutter and influence action through creative direct marketing programs.
About the author(s)
Ashley Kilcoyne is the Marketing Manager at BCG Connect. For over a decade, BCG Connect has helped education institutions, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits with their creative direct marketing initiatives – reaching the right people with an effective message. Learn more at www.bcgconnect.com.