Tell Me A Story

We had an amazing testimony at church today! I mean it was good. Everybody was talking about it afterwards.

The miraculous was not involved—no one was saved from a crash with a speeding train or anything like that. In many respects, it was a pretty ordinary story—church member makes a friend at work, he expresses interest in spiritual matters, one thing leads to another, and the friend comes to the Lord.

But you see, we know the people involved. These are our people. We were there the day the friend was baptized on Sunday morning. This story is our story, and we are thrilled.

In fundraising, whether church or non-profit, never forget the power of a well-told story. To put it crassly, stories sell. To put it more accurately, stories remind your donors why they give.

People give to other people and people give to a vision, and nothing communicates vision like story.

Church members don’t give money to build a new cabin at camp, they give because they want to hear more sweet stories from camp, or they remember their own camp story as they make a pledge.

The missionary comes home on a fundraising tour and tells wonderful stories of lives changed, not buildings built.

The wealthy donor gives $1.0 million to the local children’s hospital because she was beautifully served by that hospital when a grandchild was near death. A name might be engraved on a wall, but the gift came because of a very personal story.

We all want to believe our donations make a difference. We know, of course, that part of our donation goes to fund the CEO’s salary and pay on a mortgage. Every organization has overhead. But we don’t give to overhead. We give because we want to do good.

How well are you “selling” your mission and vision?

How many stories are you telling?