Storytelling in the New Era of Giving: How to Unlock Generosity for Year-End Success
As the year-end season approaches, nonprofits find themselves at a pivotal point. Now, more than ever, nonprofits must define their unique formulas to engage and inspire donors in a landscape characterized by constant change.
To inform your decision-making, Classy launched a resource to help nonprofits confidently navigate giving season complexities. Our year-end webinar series, aptly named Unlock Generosity, is here to serve as the compass guiding organizations toward greater success.
This series is a comprehensive dive into the three primary pillars of nonprofit fundraising, defined by Classy to align with today’s donor landscape: storytelling, experience, and connection.
Today, we will uncover the transformative power of storytelling in nonprofit fundraising and how it can be harnessed to captivate donors, create unforgettable experiences, and forge deeper connections this year-end season and beyond. Let’s dive in.
It’s not news that nonprofits are facing challenges that demand a fresh approach to captivate audiences and drive meaningful change.
Recent statistics show year over year, the sector experienced a decline in the number of donors and the amounts they contribute.¹ Research from Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy report also indicates a staggering 70% of donors never return after their initial gift, signaling a crisis in donor retention. Additionally, in a world oversaturated with information, the average person encounters a mind-boggling 10,000 ads daily.
There is, however, more to the story.
One thing we know for certain is that givers give. Once a person has decided to open their wallet, they are twice as likely to give again within the year—whether to that cause, another cause, or across giving modalities. This goes against all drivers of the scarcity mindset and the concept that nonprofits must compete for market share.
Today, we have the ability to engage with anyone, anywhere, instantly. While this presents its own hurdles, it offers nonprofits exciting opportunities to create meaningful connections with more people in more places, knowing there is no such thing as a strictly capped wallet.
Defining Storytelling and Its Role in Effective Fundraising
In the world of nonprofit fundraising, storytelling is not just a tool. It serves as a magnetic force, drawing donors into your orbit and helping them forge a deep and meaningful connection with your cause. But storytelling isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s a versatile and multifaceted gem that plays a role in every aspect of your organization.
Storytelling is your superpower. People are looking for humanity. They’re looking for hope, and we have that in spades.
Personalized storytelling is a breath of fresh air in a world where everyone is bombarded with generic messages.
Use data and insights to tailor your stories to the interests and motivations of your donors. Show them how their specific contributions are making a difference. Donors who feel part of a personalized journey will likely stay engaged and continue supporting your cause.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Donors want to connect with real people and genuine narratives, not polished corporate jargon. Becky Endicott, co-host of Classy’s first Unlock Generosity webinar, shared, “Use contractions, use emojis. Have a soul as an organization.” Although seemingly simple advice, we rarely see it put into action in the sector due to uncertainty of how it will resonate. Here is your sign to give it a try.
Authenticity Is Key
There is a broad distrust of mainstream media and businesses. It’s why individuals often look to their networks or communities to learn more.
Share the authentic stories of the individuals you’re helping and the impact you’re making on the ground. Authenticity builds trust, and trust is the bedrock of lasting donor relationships.
Jon McCoy, Founder, Visionary, and CEO at the We Are For Good podcast, shared during Classy’s Unlock Year-End Fundraising: Strategies to Connect Your Community to Your Mission webinar, “Having different perspectives and values adds depth to your storytelling.” That depth allows for more impactful engagement.
Familiarize Yourself with Psychological Storytelling Principles
In our recent blog, Why Do People Give to Charity? The Psychology of Storytelling and Its Impact on Nonprofit Fundraising, we discuss what motivates people to donate and how storytelling can fuel giving in powerful ways.
Written in collaboration with our partners at DonorVoice, this blog defined the four attributes of storytelling success:
Grounded in foundational storytelling techniques and the associated effective psychological principles, these attributes can serve as your nonprofit’s framework for stories that stick in donors’ minds for the long term.
Secure the Right Technology
The right fundraising platform is more than just a means to collect donations; it is a powerful tool for storytelling and advocacy.
To stand out and make a lasting impact, nonprofits must leverage technology that aligns with their missions, values, and storytelling capabilities. Securing the right tools plays a pivotal role in not only raising funds but also effectively representing your story and communicating it at scale.
The right fundraising technology also empowers organizations to communicate with the right people at the right times. Through email marketing, social media, and online campaigns, nonprofits have the potential to reach a broader audience. They can tailor their messaging to different donor segments and personalize interactions, fostering a sense of connection and engagement.
This scalability and syndication is essential for nonprofits looking to expand their reach and influence, as it enables them to mobilize supporters, drive advocacy, and raise funds efficiently. See how Atlas Free achieved a 43% conversion rate by combining storytelling and streamlined giving on Classy.
Bring Your Stories to Life with Actionable Blueprints
The next step is implementing these adaptive best practices into your nonprofit stories. If you’re overwhelmed by where to begin, we invite you to attend the remaining sessions of Classy’s six-part webinar series, Unlock Generosity: Year-End Giving. Once registered, you will gain access to the recordings of any previously hosted sessions and a free virtual seat for all upcoming discussions.
To access additional resources, explore Classy’s Giving Tuesday Resource Hub. Complete with a comprehensive library of all year-end giving resources today’s nonprofits need to succeed, we know you will benefit from a quick visit to the site.
And as always, our Classy coaches are here to help. Explore all the essential learnings you need to raise more on Classy this year-end season. Sign up for our year-end coaching series today.
- “2022 Fundraising Showed Substantial Weakness Through Q4,” Research & Reports, AFP, last modified April 16, 2023, https://afpglobal.org/2022-fundraising-showed-substantial-weakness-through-q4.
Unlock Generosity: Year-End Giving Blueprints
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