How to Tell a Story Contributors Will Love


As a kid growing up, you probably remember listening to a lot of stories. At the camp fire, at bedtime, at school or when you least expected it. Fairy tales and family tales, fables, tall stories, long stories short and maybe even a sob story captured your attention. There could be one or two in particular that are stamped in your memory. In fact, you will probably always remember them- good or bad. So how can you create your own memorable story that will be hard for a potential contributor to ever forget? All without making it seem like an endless coil of rope that leaves everyone hanging.

Keep in mind these three important points before you begin your story.

  • Make it personal. Seek out people who have a personal life experience that serves to connect them to a community and/or a cause. Someone who can relate closely to your mission at a personal level is predisposed to learn more about it.
  • Don’t try to project perfection. We all know it is an imperfect world. Successes and failures are deep-rooted in every organization. Revealing each can create a powerfully transparent story.
  • Establish trust. In the past, has your nonprofit done what it promised? When it was not able to fulfill a promise, did it show why?

“Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation.”  Chinua Achebe

Now tell me a story about a person,

a challenge they faced

and your vision to help overcome it.

That’s it. Forget the mind-numbing marketing sedatives.

Part 1- Introduction

As your opening, introduce me to someone.  Paint a vivid picture in my mind- maybe someone just like me or someone close to me.  If I say to myself “Gee, that sounds like me!” or “Gosh, that sounds like my friend stormin’ Norman!”, you have raised my attention and we are in the air.

Part 2- Surprise Me

Now go ahead and make a nosedive. Describe the challenge this person faces by shocking me with a deeply troubling dilemma. Intensify my emotional attachment. Help me to feel the pain, see the sorrow, hear the desperate pleas for help and imagine the burden. Give a full-blown description of the danger: strife, up hill battles and collisions.

Part 3- Propose a Solution

Talk about a plan for resolution that urgently requires my help. Take me from tragedy to triumph. Clearly articulate your vision. Get down to brass tacks: leave me understanding the source of your confidence in bringing that vision to fruition. Then leave the rest up to the contributor. The collective action of all contributors will be instrumental in taking your organization to new heights.

How do you preserve the integrity of your story? Remember to keep it consistent between everyone that may tell it. Inconsistency in the message creates undesirable doubt and ultimately puts the mission itself into question.

So o.k.- let’s hear it! Got a good story you would like to share? Tell it here and feel free to offer constructive comments on other nonprofit stories as well.

Mark C Titi, EzineArticles Basic Author

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