Use Storytelling to Boost Donations at Your Next Fundraising Event

January 29, 2019
4 minutes

So, what's your story? Effectively telling your nonprofit's story through regular emails, newsletters, and website content is essential to any fundraising strategy. But when it comes to telling your story at a fundraising event? Well, it's a whole different ball game! Putting on a successful fundraising event can be costly, and you want to make sure you meet your fundraising goals so that money can go towards mission-critical activities (talk about pressure).

How do you use the power of compelling storytelling at your fundraising events to maximize your donations? We've got some actionable suggestions for you so you can make the greatest impact.

Lay the groundwork before the event

Sometimes, you gotta tease 'em! Before your event, one of the best ways to build passion around the work you do is through short, but impactful stories. You can do this by making ticket purchases into an immersive storytelling experience—just add story elements into your events & ticketing form on your own website.

Weaving in impactful quotes or mini-story snippets will create conversation pieces leading up to your event without pressuring anyone to donate (although you can add that option during the ticketing experience!). You can also start an email campaign before the big day that highlights specific impact stories while building excitement for your event.

This is the perfect opportunity to reiterate what makes your nonprofit and the work you're doing so rad, and hopefully, pull at some heartstrings. Think of these as teasers in preparation for the big impact story reveal that will happen at your fundraising event.

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Use the venue as an immersive storytelling space

On event day, if your nonprofit's story isn't interwoven throughout the event venue with impactful visuals and takeaways, then you're missing a major opportunity.

From check-in to dining tables to banners, you can visually tell your story through physical items and conversation pieces. Here're some examples: consider making postcard-sized handouts at check-in with stories and photos of the people you've helped. Have a banner stand next to the refreshments with some of your organization's most impactful stats. Put flyers on tables with a text-to-give number so donors can give with little pressure.

Little details add up to big benefits when it comes to getting donors immersed in your mission and your story.

Have a representative of the story show up at your event

The big reveal at your fundraising event should be storytelling through the people who've been most impacted by your nonprofit. The parents of the child who received medical care. The proud adopters of rescue dogs. The recipient of job training. The architect of your new app. Having someone who's intimate with your services speak to your guests during the program adds powerful layers to your nonprofit's story and expands the reach of your story beyond the limit of your guests' sight.

To get your attendees hyped for your special guest, send out an SMS message through Funraise's Text Engagement feature on the day of the event. Something like, "Guess who's coming to dinner! One of our favorite [program] members will be on hand to talk about their experience." And don't forget to link to your fundraising page in the text!

If all goes well (and we've got our fingers crossed that it will), your event guests will be overjoyed to donate to your cause since they now have a face and a personal story to put to the work you're doing. And you'll want to make sure they have an easy way to donate. If they're not handing over a check, you'll need Funraise Reader so you can run their credit cards for maximum donations.

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Follow up

After you've thrown a successful event and collected a gajillion donations, all the guest data from the event will already be in the donor CRM. Instead of manually entering donations and updating donor profiles, you can use the time to follow up through Funraise's email automations. Send out an email thanking your guests for their contributions and give them a final story tidbit that leaves them wanting even more.

Let them know that the special guest at your event is going on a job interview next week, or is going into remission, or that the rescue dog finally found a foster family. Then promise to keep them looped into future progress.

Hearing firsthand how the beneficiaries of your services are thriving is one of the most powerful ways to compel donors to contribute. There's no better way to do this than at your next fundraising event. Take our advice, and don't be surprised if your donors lean into that big nonprofit hug. Just embrace it!

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