How to use Storytelling in Online Fundraising

Blog EngagementHow to use Storytelling in Online Fundraising

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How to use Storytelling in Online Fundraising How to use Storytelling in Online Fundraising
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  • February 26, 2015
  • 4 min read

Most people associate storytelling with the old, classical fairy tales, but within the communications industry it has long been a known and used discipline. We all tell stories about who we are, and what our values are. It is something that is deeply rooted in us as human beings.

To tell the good, relevant stories which capture your receivers and create a relationship, is not just something that companies can take advantage of. As an online fundraiser, you too can use this method so that your network will be even more willing to support your fundraiser. But you have to know something about storytelling and practice it. By learning some basic principles, you too can learn the art of storytelling.

Spark and driving force need to be in balance with form

According to Kasper Sørensen, professional storyteller and founder of Fortællekunstenand Besttellers, storytelling can move values and understanding from either one person to another or a group of people.

Storytelling can be divided into two parts: Content and message on one hand, and form on the other hand. The first part has to do with the fact that there needs  to be spark and  a driving force in what you are telling. At the same time, it needs to be clear and distinct. The second part, the form, has to do with you as a storyteller, and how you use your presence, your words, your voice, in fact the whole context surrounding you. It is therefore your job to ensure that both parts are given an equal weight and are in balance. If one part is more dominating, your story will not be good and attain the desired result: Namely to create a relationship to your supporters, and in the end, get them to donate money to your fundraiser.

Six simple steps to good storytelling

According to Ken Burnett, author of the book Storytelling can change the world, another reason why storytelling is a good and efficient tool for online fundraising is that our reception towards stories is embedded deeply in our DNA. Stories naturally engage us, easily involve us, fulfill our born curiosity to know more and awake our interest.

If the story and thereby the storyteller is able to tell the story in the best possible way, the receiver will be convinced that he or she can make a difference. So it is the stories that invite to change  and that show passion for any given cause that are able to get the reciever to act and make a difference. In that way, there lies a great power and potential  to engage supporters in stories.

Here are some simple steps taken from the website Sofii, which writes about the best practices for collecting money which are worth remembering when you tell your story in order for it to be inspiring, creatingtrust, and in the end make your supporters want to become involved in your fundraiser:

  1. Simplicity

Make sure your story is simple and focuses on your main message. Using analogies or pictures helps to make it simple. As an example, you can mention that for only DKK 100 one can help feed a family for x number of days.

  1. Unexpected

Say something unexpected, and ask questions to create curiosity and attention. You can for example ask a rhetorical question, like this one: “ Have you thought about the fact that the DKK 100 you spent on a pizza can feed a family for a whole month?”.

  1. Specific

Be specific. You can create a mental image by create a sensory language. As an example you could write the following: “Imagine that you are coming home after a long day, and are looking forward to a long, warm bubble bath. You turn on the shower, but no water is coming out. In Cambodia, they can only dream of such luxury. Often, the women have to walk 20 km each way just to get the water that the family needs.”

  1. Credible

If you can, use details like research, statistics, a statement  from an expert in the field, or how you make a difference.

  1. Emotional

People worry about other people  and about causes that they can identify with. You can do it in many ways, but one of them is to among other things to ask how it feels to be a part of a certain group.

  1.  Stories

The last point is about how you tell your stories, i.e. which angle you use. You can for example use real life stories about how people´s lives have been changed with aid.

Now you are hopefully ready to start telling your own stories that inspire, motivate and engage your network. How will you write your story.

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Martina Michelsen

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