Your mission is a story.
Your organisation exists because someone saw real people (or animals) experiencing real conflict and decided to do something about it.
If your charity communications can focus on a specific person and a specific conflict, and if you can invite the donor in as a hero, then you’ve got a better chance of donor engagement.
So without further adieu, here are three story types you can use today to revive donor communications. These examples of high-performing, results-yielding stories are from www.sofii.org. And they’re excellent examples of what it means to hone in on a specific conflict and then to make the donor a helper, a nurturer and a hero.
Story Type 1: Triumph of the Oppressed
Example: Womankind Worldwide Direct-Mail from www.sofii.org
“The mailing focused on the story of Aberash, a 13-year-old girl from Ethiopia. Aberash endured female genital mutilation at the age of three and a forced marriage at 12 to a man who subjected her to sexual violence until WOMANKIND’s partners enabled her to leave him safely and obtain a divorce. Now, she travels the country with their support to tell her story and encourages other young women to speak out against harmful traditions.”
Results: “The mailing’s results far exceeded targets. It achieved a response rate of 2.41 per cent, average gift level of £26.35 and generated income of £17,078 (beating its financial target by 300 per cent)”
Story Type 2: Inspiration in Suffering
Example: Association of International Cancer Research Direct Mail (Legacy) from www.sofii.org
“The Good Agency decided to begin by asking donors about their experiences with cancer. Initially they were sent a mailing asking them to share their cancer stories. The cover letter was written by a member of AICR’s staff, where she talked about her own experiences of cancer and encouraged the reader to do the same.
It was a real, personal, one-to-one communication and the response from donors was phenomenal. AICR received hundreds of moving, heart-breaking and touching stories.
They then produced a book featuring some of the most inspiring, funny and moving stories about people’s experiences with cancer (available here: http://www.aicr.org.uk/InspiringStories.stm) and by talking about legacies in the covering letter and asking about pledges.”
Results: “The AICR legacy campaign phase has elicited 114 pledges, eight responses indicating the intention to leave a legacy and 59 requests for further information. Based on an average legacy gift of £20,000, the pledges will be worth over £2.2m, if they are all fulfilled.”
Story Type 3: Nurturing the Weak
Example: NSPCC’s Little Book of Change (Major Donor Thank You) from www.sofii.org
“The Little Book of Change was designed to bring to life a range of outcomes for children that had previously been presented in a statistical report. Individual stories of children and families are shown through letters, poems, stories, magazine articles and drawings. All the words are authentic and show a range of ways in which the supporter’s money has been used to ultimately make children’s lives better. A hard-backed version for donors who had given £100k or more was hand made with materials stuck-in like a scrap-book. The cheaper printed version for other supporters demonstrates the versatility of this product.”
Results: “The Little Book of Change did not ask for a donation, we have received good feedback from those that received it who felt that valued and that their donation had made a difference.”