Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

How To End A Story If You Want To Raise More Money

August 18th, 2014 by Karen Climer

When it comes to storytelling, Food For The Poor is one of the best.  If you are not on their mailing list, I suggest you stop reading this blog, and make a donation to them right now.  (But come back to reading the blog!)

I received a wonderful letter from them.  There are so many good things about this solicitation letter, but today we’re going to focus on the story they used.

First, the language is vivid.  The letter didn’t say Eber was sick.  It said Eber was vomiting and had a fever and diarrhea.  I know you can picture that.  You might even be able to smell it.  It’s stinky and yucky, but it’s effective.

Second, the language is without jargon.  Eber was hungry.  He wasn’t experiencing  food insecurity.  He was hungry.    Eber was sick.  The problem isn’t lack of adequate healthcare services.  No, the problem is that Eber is sick.  They used the language that real people use.  Even a child can understand what Eber’s problem is.

Third, the story isn’t finished.  Sometimes we write stories that say, “Eber was sick and hungry.  Thanks to your help, he got food and medicine.  Please give again.”  This leaves the donor asking, “Why should I give again?  Eber got the food and medicine he needed.”

This story is different.  This story says that Eber is sick and hungry.  He has no food or medicine.  He won’t get it until the reader sends a donation.  That’s a compelling reason to give right now.

Yes, you need some of your stories to end with, “…and thanks to your help, all is right with the world.”  Otherwise, your donors will wonder if you’ve ever helped anyone.  But you also need stories that are unfinished.  Stories that allow the donor to step in and finish it.


Posted in Communication, Direct Mail, Grant Writing, Marketing

One Response

  1. Lauren

    This is a great observation! Thanks for this tip on storytelling and ending with an “unfinished” story. Love it.

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