How do you see this story playing out in print or on TV? What does it look like on the page? What section? What’s on the screen? For radio, what background noises will you hear in addition to the voice? If you have good visuals, point those out (absolutely essential for TV). Do you have real-world examples that can help SHOW rather than just TELL?
No sales pitch, no fundraising pitch, no jargon, nonprofit talk. No mission statements. Straight-forward, plain English.
In Search of Your Little Black Dresses: Telling the Stories That Will Raise More Money Kivi Leroux Miller with help from Claire Meyerhoff
Give them complete control over content “Is it OK if I mention . . .”
Explain how and why you are using story.
Or change identifying details
Step Away from Same Old Donor Profile for May Meet Karen, a great friend of the Albany area English Setter Rescue League. She loves English Setters and wanted to rescue one. So she called the Rescue League and we told her about Bindy, who had lived in a bad home. Karen adopted Bindy and now Bindy is happy. We all lived happily ever after in our little corner of the world. Give us some money so we can do more good work. The End.
“ Hmm… that story was boring.” “ It either needs something about tasty and plentiful table scraps, or some quirky details…”
Quirks at Work Faster than a Speeding Setter You can usually find Karen and Bindy in the huge field at the end of Sutter Road in Latham. That’s where Bindy chases anything that flies and Karen tries to keep up. “ I’m not much for the gym, so Bindy is my workout,” said Karen, a kitchen designer at Home Depot. The League rescued Bindy from a home where she rarely got to go outside, much less run free. Karen fostered Bindy for a few days, but knew right away that she was a keeper. “ I guess you could say we became fast friends.”
Stories Are a Magical Way . . . to Let Your Organization’s Personality Shine Through !
Best friends mark 21st birthday on Habitat build. Mechanic spends day off servicing Meals-on-Wheels vans. Her mom found a job, stable place to live near decent school. Retired attorney nixes plans for vacation dream home; donates property to land trust, signs on for 20 pro-bono hours per week.
Your stories all speak to that iconic image. But where it gets good is in the details…
The detail/quirks make the story… • Steve never had a dog growing up because his family lived in a small apartment, and he was never a “dog person.” • Taffy’s owner/trainer is a cancer survivor. • The first time Taffy visited Steve, he called his wife and asked her to write a check to Taffy’s host organization.
“ But we prefer to focus on pain and suffering. We’re a very serious organization, you know. What we do is not funny or quirky.”
Nina & Jack Aren’t Attending Your Pity Party Nina and Jack baked five huge lasagnas for Mother’s Day at the Ronald McDonald House. They called Nina’s Mom Sylvia in Boston to get her recipe. Jack hasn’t had Nana Sylvia’s lasagna in the ten months he’s been living in Durham, where he’s undergoing a series of eye surgeries at Duke Medical Center. flickr.com/photos/allyaubryphotography
“ I’m the Executive Director and I think stories should be about our mission. But more importantly, stories should be about the fact that our staff is here making a difference. And it’s just easier to talk about ourselves.”
But let’s add lots of numbers to it to show the impact . . . The money we raised, the number of people we serve. Lots and lots of numbers. Oh, and lots of words. Stories need to be really long to explain our mission.”
How many words and stats are in this story? “ Oh, Wow…I get it!”
Have a Story. Now What? It’s time for Kivi’s “Cakes to Cupcakes” Method of Repurposing Your Content.
2. Then share it in lots of pieces. flickr.com/photos/chilie
3. Use feedback to remix it into something new. flickr.com/photos/imcountingufoz
Repurpose: Fundraising Postcard Fast Dog. Fast Friends. Bindi loves to run -- fast. The Albany Area English Setter Rescue League found Bindi in a tiny apartment; her owner had no interest in walking, much less running, with Bindi. Then we introduced Bindi to Karen, newly committed to “getting off the couch after a day at my desk.” After a week as “foster mom,” Karen adopted Bindi, and now these “fast friends” are getting all the exercise they want. Join Karen and Bindi for The Albany Area English Setter Rescue League’s first-ever dog-walk-athon and party in the park on September 3, 2010. If you would like to be a sponsor starting at $250, please call Joe Biden at 518-343-6754. Save the Date!
Repurpose: Ad March 9, 2009: Bindi meets Karen, her new Foster Mom. March 11, 2009: Karen takes up running. March 18, 2009: Bindi is super happy. Karen is super tired. March 19, 2009: Karen adopts Bindi. March 19, 2010: Celebrate first anniversary, by running Albany MS Society “Doglover 1k.” English Setters Make Fast Friends . The Albany Area English Setter Rescue League. www.AlbanySetterSave.com
Claire Meyerhoff, who helps nonprofits raise more money by telling great stories. She is a media consultant, our resident media expert at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com, and editorial director of the Planned Giving Company.
James Perretta, an incredible fashion designer who put Claire and Kivi into their little black dresses.