One of the main challenges is this: The story most likely to move donors is about a not-yet-solved problem – someone facing a need or challenge and waiting for someone to help them overcome it. But: almost all the time, the story you have is about someone who has already solved their problem. By the time you get in touch and learn their story, they’ve moved on. Things are good. You have a success story, not a need story. That success story is important. It’s exactly what you want in your donor newsletter or donor care letter. It’s not the right story for asking donors to give. A success story inadvertently says, “Everything is a-okay! Your donation is not needed here!” But what are you to do? You have a story. A success story. Would it be better to forget the story and go back to flinging statistics at your donors? Nope. There’s a way to make your success story work in your fundraising. And I’m going to show you how one smart fundraising professional did it.
In stories told with deficit framing, the people we meet are already in a distressed or perilous state. They are starving, homeless, addicted to drugs, or a victim of abuse. Stories told this way may evoke emotion, but that tends to be pity instead of empathy. The people who are experiencing hardship appear as objects at the mercy of events and without agency to change things. This also strengthens a savior-style narrative that positions the organization as the only thing (along with your dollars, of course) that can fix these broken people. Fortunately, this ethical trap in storytelling can be avoided through a practice called “asset-framing.” Trabian Shorters, a leading expert and advocate for asset-framing, calls it “a narrative model that defines people by their assets and aspirations before noting the challenges and deficits.” This means your story introduces the protagonist (i.e. who the story is about) as a person with accomplishments, hopes and values before we get to the challenges that ultimately led them to your organization.
Built by and for foundations & nonprofit organizations supporting communities at local, regional, national and global scale.
Revised URL: https://about.twitter.com/content/dam/about-twitter/company/twitter-for-good/en/ngo-handbook-digital.pdf
Addressing the Social Proof Question The online fundraising team often receives questions and comments about the use of negative social proof in our fundraising messages. Social proof is the phenomenon that people are prone to copy the actions of others; for example, if an individual is exposed to a group of people doing or buying something, they are more likely to do so themselves. One of the most recognizable phrases in our fundraising banners takes the opposite approach, stating: “... fewer than 1% of readers give.” and/or “... 99% of readers don’t give.” The online fundraising team has tested, dozens of times, removing this fact from our materials. Our donation rate drops when we try. This past year we engaged with some experts in the field and asked them to explore further why we consistently see this finding. Is there something about a non-profit or a donation context that alters the rules of social proof? We plan on continuing to conduct tests this coming year in hopes of finding conclusions around the fundraising and non-profit context of social proof.
Learn how a brand book helps your nonprofit promote a positive brand identity and maintain consistency across marketing channels and platforms.
good pros and cons
When you tell donors they can “feed hungry children”, “stop human trafficking” or “give twice the hope”, you make them the hero. This engages a “storytelling switch” that triggers a rush of cortisol and oxytocin throughout their body: Cortisol focuses your attention on a problem that needs solving (feeding hungry children). Oxytocin magnifies your feelings of empathy, caring, and love. Can brain chemistry really increase fundraising results? Short answer: Yes. Every. Single. Time. Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry. – Paul Zak In fact, the release of these two chemicals are actually predictors of giving behavior. Stories increase fundraising results! Researchers in one study concluded is that story structure (hook, problem, payoff) kicks off the chemistry associated with giving.
The Viral Video Toolkit for Nonprofits A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Contagious Content for Social Good
6 case studies from Packard Foundations grantees