Skip to main content
Nonprofit Leaders 4min read

Using Stories to Boost Nonprofit Fundraising

Storytelling is a huge part of our social and cultural upbringing. Virtually everyone enjoys a good story. Find out how your organization can use stories to bolster your nonprofit fundraising efforts.

Appeal to Their Emotions

Researchers have found that for nonprofit fundraising, it is better to appeal to the heart than the head. According to Wharton marketing professor Deborah Small:

It’s all about putting together a simple, emotionally compelling message. The best way to do that is in the form of a picture or a story, something that purely engages the emotional system.

A well-woven tale can tug at the heart strings and inspire action unlike virtually anything else. That is why storytelling is so effective at inspiring donations. But not just any old tale will do the trick. What kinds of stories should you be telling to your potential supporters?

Show Them What They Are Supporting

Most people have a good heart. They want to give, but they want to know what and who they are giving to. They want to feel like they are making a difference, to be part of a cause.

Help donors feel like they can relate to your cause. If you are raising money for victims of a house fire, tell the family’s story. Who are they? What happened? For animal shelters or rescues, show pictures of the animals that are up for adoption. If you are raising money to fund your organization, tell the story of how your charity got started. Share the great work you have accomplished in the past.

If you are asking supporters to give $100, demonstrate how that amount of money can help someone and prove it with a story. By telling the story behind your organization, you will likely increase the amount of support coming your way.

How to Communicate Your Story to Supporters

Now that you know the importance of telling your story, you need to learn how best to go about it. The following are some ways you can get your story out there to potential donors:

Make a Video

You don’t need to produce a full-length feature film, but put together a video that is short, sweet, and to the point. Tell your nonprofit’s story. What is the history behind it? What or who are donations going toward? Remember, your main goal is to grab the hearts of viewers and appeal to their emotions.

Write Blog Posts

If your organization has a blog, use it to share real-life ways donations are making a difference. If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one. They are a great way to communicate directly with your supporters, as well as reach new potential donors. You can highlight a recent nonprofit fundraising event or write about a need that your organization is stepping up to fill.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Who could forget social media? Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to get your message out to a large audience. Use these tools to share links to your blog or to your video. Share updates about what you are currently working on or projects that were successfully completed.

Don’t be afraid to use social media to drive donations. With Givelify, you can easily share a giving link in every Facebook or Twitter post (as well as email newsletters and blog posts) that allows supporters to quickly and easily show their support.

People want to make a difference when they give. Through storytelling, show them the impact they can have by supporting your organization. Once they see the great work you are doing in your community and the world, they will be excited to show their support.

About the Author

Doug works to ensure member organizations maximize their fundraising potential. He is responsible for sharing best practices and guiding new Givelify partners to a successful launch. He has also been a volunteer tutor.

Doug Bergren