About consultc

Posted in News

Tell Stories to Win Hearts and Raise Money

Too often, we fundraisers get wrapped up in telling people what wonderful organizations we have. Our newsletters and websites are packed with these offerings:

  • Team picture of a committee
  • Full-page story on the new board member
  • Wrap-up of the gala, with a line about how much money it raised and photos of well-dressed people
  • Spotlight on the emergency room, with an interview of a hospital administrator talking about how busy a typical day is and how many patients are seen in a year.
  • Nothing wrong with thanking people for a successful gala, tipping your hat to the committee, telling your audience you have dedicated new trustee. But when these articles dominate, it’s easy to forget about the opportunity to tell stories about how your great work changes lives.
  • To touch hearts and raise more money, tell more stories about how your mission changes peoples’ lives.
  • For example:
  • RENEW International’s faith-sharing programs inspired one man to sponsor a child in Tanzania – and later to visit the poverty-stricken country on a medical mission that raised $15,000 toward a new maternity ward. RENEW’s mission is to connect faith with action, and this man’s action spotlights the power of that program. You can read it in RENEW International’s 2013 annual report.
  • I love the New York Presbyterian Hospital stories about patient outcomes in TV ads and on the hospital’s website. One patient was a US Army special ops officer who had served in the Middle East and earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. When he came home, the nightmares of war plunged him into a dark place. However, new therapies for post-traumatic stress at New York- Presbyterian have, in his words, “brought me to a point in my life where I can move on…”
  • CARE, the international relief agency, has many stories in the Impact section of its website. One moving story is about Rolando, a rice farmer in the Philippines who came up with an ingenious way to protect his family from getting swept away during Typhoon Haiyan. His village was flattened, as the buildings were made of lightweight material. The story moved donors to send CARE enough money for sheet metal, supplies and labor to rebuild with stronger materials.
  • For me, stories leave enduring impressions. When I was in business school a few years ago, I learned more from case studies about people analyzing data and solving problems than I did memorizing formulas.
  • When I was in high school many years ago, the gym teacher lashed out at the kids who left their gym uniforms at home. He told us a story about a man in his 40s who was seeing life from a wheelchair because he didn’t pay attention to his health. I had already heard the adage “If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” But after that story I really believed it – and I took extra care to pack my gear on gym days.
  • Use stories. They work.

Showing donors the power of legacy giving: We help guide donors who want to leave a legacy through their estates, so their philanthropy will benefit future generations

We help guide donors who want to leave a legacy through their estates, so their philanthropy will benefit future generations

Leveraging donor gratitude for the visionary founder of this Catholic organization that develops original faith-sharing programs was key to launching a formal planned giving program: Naming the Legacy Society after the founder gave major donors the opportunity to pledge estate gifts, thereby passing the gift of faith to their children. Said one long-time donor:

This organization is an increasingly relevant voice, as we search to live out our faith in an extremely challenging world. It meets people where they are and invites them to grow in their faith.

Sharing faith inspires sharing wealth: When unthinkable tragedy devastates someone, the power of prayer and forgiveness learned in faith-building programs is often the only way to begin healing.

Consult Carney Photo 9 - Man in prayer

Gifts to a RENEW International from year-end direct mail appeals increased sharply thanks to testimonials like this:

It was my small Christian community that got me through the tragic killing of my son. I was angry with everyone – even God. Members of my community would stop by and visit and pray with us. They helped start the healing process and supported our family. Eventually I was able to let go and forgive the killer.

Helping families rebuild after tragedy: When someone’s world comes crashing down, well-funded disaster response must be on call to help rebuild shattered lives.

When someone’s world comes crashing down, well-funded disaster response must be on call to help rebuild shattered lives.

Corporate foundations awarded grants to The Red Cross to help people like this client who lost almost everything in a disaster:

It was 11:30 PM when one of the biggest fires I have ever seen ripped through our 25-unit apartment building… All of my hard work, labor and precious belongings were destroyed that night… and the anxiety kicked in. But the Red Cross did not leave us in the cold! We were all given clothing, stipends and hotel vouchers.

Advancing women’s health care: The capital campaign to expand a hospital’s popular breast center was designed so more women could be screened and treated in time.

The capital campaign to expand a hospital’s popular breast center was designed so more women could be screened and treated in time.

Healing patients fueled passion for this New Jersey hospital capital campaign for a new breast center. Here’s what one woman said:

I have just completed radiation treatments for breast cancer at Pascack Valley Hospital. What would have been a fearful, stressful time in my life turned out to be just the opposite. I was always treated with discretion and in a friendly, professional manner.