I’ve just getting back from the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference so it’s likely no surprise stories are on my mind.

At the conference this year, I noticed talk about 2 types of nonprofit stories. I heard talk about “institutional stories” and “donor stories.”

Institutional stories are just that – about the institution. These are necessary and good. They have their place. Institutional stories are great for staff and board orientations. They educate and inform. But institutional stories don’t drive donations.

The story that drives donations is donor story.

The surprising reason behind the donor story

This sounds illogical, doesn’t it? Won’t donors make gifts only after they learn about our organization? How great we are at what we do?

The thing is, donors aren’t looking for a new charity to support. Donors are looking for a way to support what they care about. Not charities they care about. Values. Issues. Causes.

So be that cause.

As you make your calls to donors, just before you pick up the phone pause to think about what they may want to give to. Identify where your work intersects with their mission. Then call and meet them there.

Keep it fact, don’t create a fictional story

I’ve worked with nonprofit leaders long enough to know that I need to add this qualifier: this “donor story” post is not about “mission creep.” Do not create programs simply to please donors. Instead, identify what the individual is interested in and find commonalities in what your organization is already doing.

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