Fundraising 101: Tell a Single Story

poverty on volunteer screening blogIdeas and suggestions around fundraising abound—if non profit managers had a dollar for each one, they probably wouldn’t need to fund raise! But if you’re like us, you agree that there is no such thing as too many good ideas. So here’s another one: when asking donors for money, tell a single story.

In his book, “The Life You Can Save,” Peter Singer of Princeton University gives examples of human beings going to great effort to save the lives of others—one-on-one. But in the larger picture, millions die from starvation, disease, and malnutrition—when the rest of us have the resources to save them.

The example points to how human nature works at its basic level. When we’re presented with the choice to rescue a single person who is right in front of us, most would do the right thing and help. When the need becomes too big, or faceless—as in the problems of lack of clean water, medicine, and food among poor populations on the other side of the globe—we tend to think we can’t do anything about it.

Telling the single story is a powerful tool for non profit organization (NPO) marketers and managers. How are you approaching your fundraising efforts? Are you presenting a problem that seems just too big to solve to your prospective donors?

Try featuring a single effort, challenge, group, or person when communicating your NPO’s funding needs. Tell a success story—how your organization improved the life of one person, or one dog, or one neighborhood. Tell a story about what happens to a single bird in the forest when its habitat is destroyed. Focus on the people in one family who lost a treasured home in a tornado.

Remember how human nature seems to work: while individuals are willing to save the person who’s drowning right in front of them, they are apparently unwilling to donate money to save one who’s dying half a world away.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.