4 Ways to Get Started in Storytelling

Image: Akarakingdoms at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Akarakingdoms at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stories can be powerfully persuasive in communicating with donors. More so than other mediums, stories inspire feelings of connection and the drive to take action. Are you a storytelling fundraiser? If not, read on for four simple ways to get started.

Step back.

Change your lens at work for a couple of days, and pay as much attention as you can to the lives your organization is changing through its work. The stories you want to use in fundraising are the stories of those changes. Storytellers for Good is a fantastic Bay Area org that helps nonprofits tell their stories in a compelling video format. Watch their samples to get inspired.

Start collecting.

Ask colleagues, volunteers, board members, donors, and clients for stories from the front lines of your organization’s work. Cast your net wide. The more you can build storytelling into your organizational culture, the more stories you’ll have to chose from in fundraising. 

Think heart, not head. 

Great stories are grounded in emotion—they tug at our heart-strings. There is a lot of focus (and pressure!) these days for nonprofits to collect data and measure outcomes. Shifting away from data-head mindset might be tricky but to get good at story telling, you’ll have to do so. Start by learning more about research that suggests sharing statistics with donors can actually SUPPRESS giving!


Listen to your donors. Listen to the stories they tell. What donors say and how they say it can be some of the best guidance for understanding which of your organizational stories have the most lasting impact.

Other tips: pick stories about only one or two people. It’s more likely that your readers or listeners will connect with one or two people than with a large group. Choose the stories you can be authentic and passionate about. And make sure to capture the details that will bring each story to life. It’s hard to fake it with great storytelling.

Ready to get started? Here’s one action step you can take right now:

Dedicate the first 10 minutes of your team or organizational staff meetings to storytelling. Welcome anyone and everyone to share stories of how they have seen client lives change during the past week. You can even give these sessions a catchy name – “Mission Witness,” “Mission Moment,” “Frontline Files.”

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click). 

Do you have other advice on how to start integrating more storytelling into your fundraising work? Please share in the Comments box below!