In the launch article for this series, I talked about the Dog’s Trust’s Harry Potterised fundraising appeal – and their extraordinary 1:12 ROI (for every £1 spent by charity there was a £12 return in donations). (By the way, while this article is focused on storytelling, always remember the importance of analysis and data.)
I also talked about the £7.5m legacy eventually left by the donor who was recruited by that campaign.
Again, it was no accident that this appeal used commercial creative writing principles. The same storytelling principles that helped make Harry Potter so phenomenally successful. These are the techniques that authors of creative fiction and non-fiction use to guarantee a hooked audience. And, wittingly or unwittingly, fundraisers have used these principles in successful fundraising appeals.
Now, amongst the five principles discussed, ‘Show! Don’t Tell!’ is one of the most important.
As I mentioned before, this principle is simple. Rather than telling someone what your organisation does in a vague and general way, show them what that actually looks like through imagery and detail. For a quick example, take a look at this letter in a Womankind Worldwide direct mail package: http://bit.ly/wCcUBL
Because “Show! Don’t Tell!” is central to all good storytelling, I wanted to start with that in helping you create your story portfolio.
I’ve created a writing tool that will help train your brain to think more like a storyteller. And it will help you form the core of the stories that will eventually make up your portfolio.
By the way, be sure to sign up for email updates for the creative writing series. You’ll have a story portfolio at the end of this series. Powerful tales to help you Harry Potterise your appeals.
Here are the four simple steps to getting your story portfolio ready:
- Complete this chart & send to colleagues (email me at email@example.com for the Word version)
You may need to read through past case studies, newsletters, blog and website content and even annual reports to find the images and details you need. You could even interview beneficiaries. It’s definitely labor intensive. But it’s worth it. Remember, through this effort you are bringing the donor into the experience of the beneficiary through imagery and detail.
2. Set-up a meeting to discuss the contents of your charts
Finding your organisation’s high-yielding stories should (preferably) be a community effort. By talking through these stories, others can add important details or contribute ideas to make the story that much more powerful.
3. Assign a story to each person to develop for the story portfolio
Set up a Microsoft Word document and put it on a common drive so that everyone can contribute their story. And then you’ll have the beginnings of a dynamic story portfolio
4. Sign up for email updates from the Fundraising Creative Writing Series
Once a week, I’ll send writing tools like the one in this article to help you revise and refine the stories you’ve started.
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