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The Power of a Good Donor Story

powerful image of a woman affected by an emotional donor story

The warmth and honesty of a personal story rises above the daily barrage of marketing and advertising messages that blast your prospects all day long.

An effective donor story elicits a natural identification process from your prospects. “That’s me!” is their response as they read it.

And that is exactly where you want them — visualizing a positive outcome for themselves if they, too, make a gift.

In short, donor stories motivate people to give, and in fact, generate second time gifts.

Here are four tips that will help your nonprofit maximize the effectiveness of donor stories:

    1. Start with a compelling headline. Grab your readers’ attention and don’t let go. Make them want to read more. Remember: The headline is the advertisement for the body copy. Sell that story!
    2. Use appealing photos. Study after study shows that pictures draw the eye in a way that text can’t. Work with donors to get photographs that are visually interesting and appealing to your planned giving prospects. If you use stock footage, make sure the people look real (not like models for a dental clinic).
    3. Craft copy that engages your prospects. Get hold of a good copywriter who can write both for the donor and Google (for SEO — search engine optimization).
    4. Have a sample questionnaire in front of you. It will help you obtain most, if not all, the details when you speak with the donor. Click here to download one (it’s in Microsoft Word so you can customize it).
    5. Get Personal. An effective donor story goes beyond the what (amount donated) to reveal the who and the why behind the gift. Who is the donor, really? The story should offer a glimpse into their life, and explain what inspired them to give.

One final tip: Rarely will a donor write you a story (called a testimonial in the business world) that you’ll be able to use as-is. The stories will need to be edited for length, clarity, and to ensure they match the style and tone of your other communcations. As we mention above, it’s best to partner with someone who is skilled at writing and communication to craft the donor’s story into a readable message.

For more tips and resources, check out this white paper written by Viken Mikaelian: Are You Getting Those Donor Stories?

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