Tuesday, February 1, 2022

How to tell a great Fundraising story

Telling a fundraising story is a skill. Doing it well is the key to a successful social fundraiser. There’s no doubt that fundraising is a crowded space. With many people and organisations competing for support and attention, you need to find new and creative ways to leave an impression and encourage donations.

Fundraising stories are more than just “Hi, please give me money. Thank you and bye”. The best ones generate engagement, spark emotion – and, crucially, donations. By creating a narrative, we draw people in, insert them into the story, and give them a reason to donate.

But don’t worry; you don’t have to be the next Jane Austen or William Shakespeare to do this. Follow our nine top tips for supercharging your fundraising story – and reaping as much support as possible for your cause.

      1. Start with You

You’re the main character. Whether you’re writing your fundraising story or using one of our Live Raises, it’s important to introduce yourself and summarise what led you to start this fundraiser. Keep details brief, but stay as authentic as possible. Your supporters will value honesty and transparency over anything else.

You might be raising funds for yourself, someone else, or a wider cause. Either way, explain why this cause matters to you. Positioning you as the ‘main character’ like this is an effective technique. In fact, character-driven stories have been shown to:

  • Result in oxytocin synthesis in the brain, which drives empathy
  • Motivate a desire to help others
  • Promote better recall

Storytelling and speaking from the heart establishes a bond between the beneficiary (the main character) and the donator. Everyone understands how telling your story takes courage; it can be an extremely scary or painful thing to do. Plus, you’re broadcasting your tale to the public. However, it’s this act that inspires compassion and builds a connection with your audience and your potential donators.

      2. Connect with Your Audience

Potential donators should always be at the forefront of your mind. This is especially true if we picture them as the ‘hero’ of our story. When someone chips in, they become more than just investors - they become part of the journey. With that in mind, you want to reference them directly (using ‘you’), especially when detailing the impact their donations will have.

Read your story from the point of view of a donator. Consider how they’re spoken to, which words they’ll relate to, or which phrases will kick-start action. Remember, we want to inspire people to support you rather than sit back and be passive observers. When finished, go back through and ask yourself if what you’ve written would push you to share it or click the ‘Donate Now’ button.

Our top tip: Write your fundraiser as if you’re talking to a friend. Donators aren’t faceless people you have to ‘win’ over. They’re people looking to help, and they want to be included.

      3. Delve into Your Story

We’ve set the stage with our introduction and thought about our audience. Now, it’s time for the main act; the ‘problem’. This is where your story comes alive.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed about where to start? Answer these questions to establish your narrative’s flow:

  • What’s the ‘problem’ that donators can help with?
  • Reiterate how you are connected to the cause
  • What’s your fundraising goal?
  • How will you use donated funds?
  • What will people’s donations mean to you?
  • What difference will this make to either yours or someone else’s life

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable here and speak about any fears or anxieties. Being honest helps people become emotionally invested and understand how much – and how far – their donations can go. Remember, people won’t part with their money because they feel pity; they’ll donate because they emotionally connect with your story and want to be a part of the next chapter.

What do fundraising and storytelling both have in common? Empathy.

      4. Add a Little Tension

Any tension in a narrative is likely to hold attention and drive empathy. As readers, we want to see how it’s going to be resolved. So, this is where you can describe the struggles and challenges you, your family, community, or wider society have faced – and what led you here. Have these challenges changed you as a person? Have you attempted to overcome them? If you’re fundraising for someone else, simply apply these questions to them.

Then, highlight the turning point that prompted you to start a fundraiser. Was it a particular day? Was it at a specific place? We don’t want to waffle too much here. Short, sharp, and to the point captures people’s attention.

     5. Experiment with the Layout

When writing your fundraiser, bold, italicise or underline specific points for emphasis. This can highlight your turning point, what people’s donations will achieve, or key moments.

Include subheadings, pull out quotes and bullet points to break your story up and prevent it from being one long chunk of text (like we’ve done with this blog). Subheadings can:

  • Make the information easier to absorb
  • Help with the flow of your story
  • Signpost certain sections, such as how to donate

     6. Include a Clear Call to Action

At the end of every article should be a clear signpost of what you want the reader to do next. With fundraisers, it’s usually a simple message asking for donations.

However, we can take this one step further. If you detail precisely what people’s money is going towards, you’re more likely to generate donations. For example:

  • £2 will pay for a hot meal for one person
  • £200 will contribute towards a new kitchen

This gives people something tangible to connect with – and establishes those crucial elements of trust and transparency. At Raise It Up, we always clarify that 100% of donations go straight to the cause.

      7. Add Photos and Videos

As a society, we’re so used to skim-reading that having visual elements can really help tell the story for you. Video storytelling is also the perfect tool for adding more voices into the mix, such as family members and volunteers.

Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. And, on social platforms, video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined.

Videos and photos connect your potential donators to your fundraiser. They get to put a face to the name and visualise where their money is going. So, if you’re looking to get your message out there, nothing does it better than video content.

      8. Choose a Scroll-stopping Title

Think of your favourite book, movie or TV series. There’s something about its title that initially drew you in, right? Your fundraiser is the same. It’s the first thing people will see on social media before clicking through to your page.

You’re probably wondering why this isn’t our first point on the list. That’s because you’re more likely to summarise your fundraiser with one line after you’ve written your story. Your title can be straightforward or play with humour. Whatever you choose, be sure to include the name of your beneficiary and the major challenge that person faces.

       9. Continue Your Story with Updates

We know all good stories have an introduction, a middle, and an end. However, your story doesn’t have to conclude with your fundraising page. If anything, it finishes on a bit of a cliffhanger. That’s because your readers decide the ending through their actions: if they’ll donate and how much.

Posting updates brings donators into the centre of the story. They can see how it unfolds – and what difference their money makes. These updates don’t have to only focus on the good. Feature the downs, setbacks, and honesty. An engaging and transparent fundraiser is more likely to receive further donations and help you reach your target.

Tap into the power of social media by sharing your fundraiser across various platforms. To update, share a simple thank you message or post photos, videos, and messages through the Raise It Up app.

Looking for an Example?

Check out Charlie Rocket’s fundraiser for Richard Hutchin, a homeless artist who Charlie literally stumbled upon outside a supermarket in the US and, thanks to Charlie’s social donators, kickstarted an amazing journey for Richard with a simple act of kindness.

Charlie has continued to post stories and reels to update his followers on Richard’s inspiring and incredible story that started with just a $2,000 donation for art supplies.

Once you’re ready, start a Raise and begin your fundraising story. You can go live with a Live Raise or effortlessly share to your social channels.