At the Fundraising Live conference in London last week, I was struck by how many of the sessions and conversations were about using stories for engagement.
If securing enough funding or finding and keeping sustainable sources of funding is a problem for your organisation, how can you use effective communication to help you solve the problem? Looking at how your organisation communicates with a whole range of stakeholders, both internal and external, is a good place to start.
1. How will communicating well contribute to your overall fundraising goals? A clearly told, emotive story will engage funders and donors with who you are and what you want to do to make a positive difference in the world. A compelling story will lead to investment in all senses. And remember to tell your story internally as well as externally – your employees and volunteers want to know that they are part of that story, contributing to that positive difference.
2. Who has a natural affinity for your work and is most likely to support it? If you are looking for new funders and donors, what is it about your story that they don’t yet know? By getting to know your donors and potential donors, what motivates and interests them, what do they already know and so on, you can build genuine long-lasting relationships with them. The same goes for your volunteers and employees.
3. What are your core messages? Look for individual real life stories that illustrate those messages. Although many organisations are dealing with complex issues, if you can find a way to make those issues easier to understand, funders and donors will connect with you more easily. Simplifying your message is not the same as dumbing down; you are aiming to take your audience with you on a journey through your area of expertise and give them a role to play in the solution, not patronise them.
4. When and how do donors and potential donors want to hear from you? When and where will they be most receptive to your messages? This is about timetables and deadlines for applications, but also about the times when they will be most open to what you have to say.
Two final thoughts:
“We sell the feeling of making a good thing happen.” Charles Wells, Chief Marketing Officer at JustGiving
People want to feel good about what they are doing, so think about how you can engage them and involve them in making something happen.
“People will only fund you if they trust you – and they will only trust you if they know you.” Judith Davey, Chief Executive, The Advocacy Project
Building trust is all about relationships and having a consistent story. Read more about how Judith and her team have been improving communicaton to benefit their funding in a CharityComms article I wrote recently.
How are you communicating your story for fundraising at your organisation?
Until next time