2 min Read
November 24, 2009

What story are you telling your donors… and where are you telling it?

Big Duck

After a brief hibernation, the NYC chapter of NTEN’s 501 Tech Club [came roaring back last Wednesday night when nearly 40 people came together to meet their nonprofit techie peers. The draw? The chance to hear Farra Trompeter of Big Duck, Simon Moloney of Confer Analytics and Rebecca Willett of Planned Parenthood Federation of America discuss “Multi-Channel Fundraising: Strategies and Tools to Engage Donors through Integrated Campaigns.” It’s a fancy title that boils down to one question: are you telling a consistent story to your donors?

Think about your favorite nonprofit and why you support it. Odds are, it isn’t just because it has a well-written mission statement. Successful nonprofits realized long ago that no matter how important their causes, donors don’t connect to abstract needs. Instead, nonprofits share stories and pictures of people whose lives are made better by the work they do and how that work is made possible by your financial support. Good storytelling is at the heart of successful donor relationships.

Nonprofits need to remember this fundamental truth as they expand their donor communications to online channels. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the myriad of online options – email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, et al – and learning the technical aspects of how they work. But what is often forgotten along the way is that each of these is simply a tool just like direct mail and phone solicitations. What’s important is to focus on the story and adapt it to each channel.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Development sends a letter, the program staff posted a video of their latest project, and the intern has started a Twitter account. Donors may see the output of all three, but without a unified story the result is a disjointed approach that often leaves them confused at best, annoyed at worst. To avoid this a consistent story must be told across all donor touch points. This presents a wonderful opportunity because every time a donor interacts with your organization it is a chance to share another aspect of your story and reiterate the work they make possible.

If your organization currently doesn’t have a unified story it’s not too late to start. In fact, with the end of the year quickly approaching this may be the best time. Because many people make their annual contribution at the last-minute a unified appeal on December 30 may be just the tickler they need to make a gift.

What experiences have you had in trying to have a consistent story in all your donor communications?

Thomas Negron is a guest blogger for the Duck Call. He is a fundraising associate at United Way of New York City and co-organizer of the 501 Tech Club NYC.