What a 1970’s TV Variety Act Can Teach You About Fundraising

As Max Bygraves (much loved TV variety artist of the 1970’s for those of you who’re to young or not based in the UK) would say ‘Let Me Tell You a Story…’

OK, it’s a bit tenuous but it does illustrate a point.  Old Max used to settle in with his audience by telling them a story.  And the key to making your copy more compelling is by telling a story to your readers – rather than churning out facts and figures.

So, what should you be doing to make your organisation stand out?

  1. Tell a Story – don’t talk about your organisation or its programmes. Talk about your achievements and success stories; tell potential donors what you do and what your work achieves: what are the outcomes of your work and who benefits?

  2. Think about using donors to help you make your case – quotes from other donors as to why they chose to support your organisation or telling others what they get out of it can help encourage others to give. You can include donor stories in everything from quotes in correspondence to case studies in newsletters or video clips on your website. The most recent, compelling (and in fact, tear jerking) donor video I recently saw was from charity:water – and if you’re looking for ways to make a case to potential donors, look no further than this charity as they lead the way (in my humble opinion) in donor communications.

  3. Make a Call to Action – tell donors what you need. If they give £xx, what will that help you achieve? Or, if they volunteer to give their time, what will that help you to achieve? You don’t always need to ask them for money – in fact, it might help people to feel more engaged if you don’t. So do you need them to retweet your latest campaign or like your Facebook page? Do you need them to volunteer to help you carry out your work? Are you looking for experts in a particular field? Be creative and think of all the ways that you can involve donors when asking people to support your cause.

  4. Be Creative – think about drawing a picture of what it is that you do. Use visual imagery to help conjure up images in a donor’s mind so they can ‘see’ what you need and that will help them to better understand what it is that you do.

  5. People Give to People – tell your story through the people that you support. Give donors a case study to read so they can learn how their money could help you to carry out the work that you do and give them a real world context so they can better understand what their money will actually do.

  6. Think about being a Hero – if your organisation is the hero, what’s the adversity that you’re helping to overcome? Poverty, starvation, illiteracy, homelessness, cruelty?

There’s more about writing copy that raises money in our Guide to Successful Trust Fundraising – it’s free and you can download your copy here today!


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