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The art of storytelling can improve your fundraising, and make it more fun to boot.

Tips to Perfect the Art of Storytelling

Happy National Tell a Story Day! Do you know someone who is a good storyteller? Someone who can captivate an audience with the tale they are weaving. Someone whose stories you always want to hear because they are engaging and entertaining. For me, that someone is was always my grandfather. We would listen over the dinner table and walk with him through the memories of his youth, his love of the backwoods of northern Minnesota and his passion for Notre Dame football. Nonprofits can learn a valuable lesson for good storytellers. Storytelling is a powerful communications tool that can set you apart from other nonprofit organizations vying for your donors’ time, talent, treasure and attention. As you are well aware, donors give for altruistic reasons, so connecting with them on an emotional level is key to capitalizing on their generosity and desire to give. Storytelling is a great and incredibly effective way to do just that!Donors like (and respond to) the warm and fuzzy that comes from supporting a cause. Make sure you are continually warming their hearts through compelling and inspired storytelling that brings your mission to life. Try these storytelling techniques designed to help you speak to donors’ hearts:

Remember the three C’s.

Be clear, concise and compelling. Verbose, meandering and mundane content will be ignored.

Tell the truth.

Being truthful and transparent are extremely important. Don’t take creative liberties and exaggerate your stories. Donors can separate fact from fiction, so don’t embellish for effect.

Be your authentic self.

Every organization has a personality. It’s the way you express and represent yourself — it’s your heart and soul. Be genuine and let your persona shine through so donors can better relate to you and your mission. Stories without personality fall flat. (more…)

Looking to connect with your donors? All it takes is a smile.

Connect with Your Donors: Tell Your Parish Story

Churches are lucky among nonprofits; time to connect with yourcommunity is built into religious life. For Catholics, that means Sunday Mass. And as you know, evoking an emotional connection with your parishioners is the foundation to getting them more involved in the community with their time, talent or treasure.While this is easy when they are sitting in the pew at Mass, how do you carry this connection on throughout their week? They have work concerns, children to care for, obligations with friends and family, and, of course, they have other nonprofits asking them, “donate to our cause.“The fact is, your parishioners’ attention is being pulled at by several other nonprofits, possibly many times each day. Compare this to the fact that they may only hear from you at Mass on Sunday. They might take home the bulletin, but that could just sit under a stack of bills. So how can you make sure your parish stands out?

Why Connect?

According to Giving USA, charitable giving grew 7.1% in 2014, and religious donations still hold the largest piece of that pie. However, that slice has been shrinking in comparison to other types of giving, a trend that has been going on for 30 years. This is due in large part to the influx of nonprofits reaching out to your parishioners, evoking a competing emotional connection for their organizations’ cause.So how can a church keep up? Well the good news is, a parish has an innate emotional connection to its parishioners – spirituality. Your parishioners get a very tangible refresher from hearing your pastor speak, so all you need to do is remind them of that refreshing feeling they get from your masses during the week. This will strengthen your relationship with your parishioners!

What’s Your Story?

Your parish already has a mission, and in it lies your story. Tell your parishioners a little bit about your church, and connect them to the history of your parish.

  • Why did your pastor decide to become a pastor?
  • Is there a message from the homily that could be repeated in a mid-week email?
  • How did you come to work at the parish? What about your colleagues?
  • What happened at your last big parish event, behind the scenes in preparation for the fun?
  • When was your church built? Is there a story of its founding you can share?
  • Can you share a weekly or monthly “Spotlight on a Parishioner” as an email or newsletter article?

Small stories like these are just the thing to help build up the sense of community that’s so crucial to your mission. Connected parishioners are engaged parishioners, and the more they feel like they’re a part of the church the more likely they are to volunteer, donate and participate. To help you share your story, I want to share a favorite, easy resource of mine with you.

Share Your Stories

My story-telling knowledge is inspired by a woman named Vanessa Chase. Her website, The Storytelling Nonprofit, is chock-full of resources, ideas, inspiration and motivation that you can learn from and adapt to fit your parish. I cannot recommend her website enough!Vanessa encourages non-profits to think of their donors as intimate relationships – and what keeps you supporting your friends, families, and loved ones more than the emotional connection you share with one another? It’s that emotional connection with your loved ones that is built so much by the stories you build together and tell one another, so Vanessa teaches us how to begin that conversation with parishioners and donors.Your parishioners come to you for a very intimate reason, and communicating your story with them not only validates their spirituality but also strengthens their desire to support your mission. Connect over stories and watch your community grow!

Where will your donors' tax returns go?

Tax Time: Top 10 Reasons Donors Give

The mad dash to file personal income tax returns is on! With the April tax deadline looming, we thought it would be interesting to share insights on what drives donors to give. Hint: tax deduction doesn’t even make the top 10!Knowing the motivating factors behind charitable giving is critically important for successful fundraising. According to the recently released GiveCentral Insights on Nonprofit Giving report, altruistic motivations are the primary drivers for charitable giving. Overwhelmingly, Americans donate out of the goodness of their hearts, not because they have to or should for tax purposes. Faith and the desire to help others trump tax breaks.

Understanding why donors give is one piece of the fundraising puzzle. Armed with insights on donor behaviors, your challenge is to create strategies that tap into donor motivations. Communications should be a cornerstone of your strategic plan. From a compelling content marketing strategy to inspired storytelling, demonstrating how donor contributions make a real and meaningful difference to your mission can have a direct impact on your funding. Knowing how important a comprehensive communications plan is to your success, we will continue to share ideas and tangible tips on how to maximize your communications, so be sure to check back frequently. In the meantime, I’m signing off so I can go finish my taxes!  

It's National Volunteer Week! How are you celebrating your volunteers?

Three Cheers For Volunteers

Mark National Volunteer Week with an Appreciation Activity

National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, offers a chance for you to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them and value the work they do for your organization.It’s no surprise, volunteers are the backbone of nonprofit organizations. Volunteers help with fundraising, lend their expertise to your organization and help spread the word about your mission. They fuel your programs and services and help you fulfill your mission.  In short, you wouldn’t be where you are today without them.National Volunteer Week is the perfect time for you to praise your volunteers and show your gratitude.  Here are some simple ideas to help you get your ideas flowing:  

Send a note of gratitude.  

A simple thank you note goes a long way.  Show your appreciation by sending volunteers a handwritten, personal note.  In today’s world of texts and emails, a handwritten note will stand out.   

Host a thank you coffee or cocktail reception.  

Invite volunteers to come together to raise a glass in celebration of their hard work.  But don’t stop there, you may want to consider hosting the gatherings on a quarterly basis.  Consider giving each volunteer in attendance a small token of your appreciation.  

Showcase volunteers.  

Spotlight volunteers and the incredible work they do by including features on them in upcoming newsletters, bulletins and/or on your website.  Show  volunteers some love and let them know how valuable they are to your organization.  Small gestures like these can go a long way to fortifying these important relationships. Want more inspiration?  Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – is the host of National Volunteer Week.  Visit their website for free National Volunteer Week resources.