How to increase donations through storytelling

My grandpa, when he was in his 90s, would tell me the same stories every time I sat with him. He would tell me about Dora, my grandmother and his wife of 60+ years, and how she was kind and good and had a power over people that surprised him his whole life. I loved hearing these stories because I loved my grandparents. I also loved them because they were mine, the stories of where I came from.

Strangers, on the other hand, didn't react the same way to these stories. "That's nice," they might mutter while their eyes gave a look of painful boredom. When the stories aren't yours, at most they are nice or entertaining. They aren’t necessary, urgent or fundamental to who you are.

This is exactly the situation most organizations find themselves in. At See3, we call it the Story Rut. And we just wrote a new white paper about it. It's when you are telling the same story over and over again and it's your organization's story. And it seems really important to you, truly essential.  Out in the world, however, it's met with a yawn.

So what do we do? We ramp up our tactical competence. We game the algorithm, we boost the post, we spend more on the video production. And maybe all this pushing has some impact around the edges, but we can't shake the feeling that we're missing it, we're not able to break through and gain more interest, more passion and more champions.

The honest truth is that you're telling the wrong story. You need to tell the story from the point of view of the people you want to activate. You need to find the room for them to become players in the great narrative that is social change. The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice -- but not without a whole bunch of hands pulling on it. Make your story into their story and they will pay attention. When the story feels essential to them and their life, that's when they donate, sign the petitions and show up day after day.

Stuck in the Story Rut? We know how to get you out of it. Let’s talk.

Author: Michael Hoffman
Tags:
  • story rut
  • white paper
  • nonprofit
  • Donations
  • stories
  • Storytelling