Storytelling is one of the keys to successful fundraising. This is how you want your readers and potential sponsors to believe in your cause and take action. Storytelling, if done right, will amplify your voices, converting readers to become your supporters, not to mention the tangible benefits of an increase in donations and volunteer engagement. I wrote this article after reviewing hundreds of campaigns. I promise this is worthy of your time, so do read this before you write your Sedunia Campaign. If you are in a rush and looking for a template, can jump to the item (5).
- Start with WHY
Always start with the WHY. WHY is the purpose, the course, or what do you believe. Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”. This is true especially when it comes to fundraising where you are essentially encouraging people to buy into your cause.
Taking Epic Homes as an example, Epic Homes is a social enterprise that builds homes for the marginalised communities. Epic Homes believe in building an inclusive support system for the Orang Asli communities so that the Orang Asli can believe in their own talent and realise their potential (being a marginalised community, could affect the Orang Asli confidence and made them subconsciously believe that they need to depend on someone else). Recruiting volunteers to build homes together with the Orang Asli for the Orang Asli is just one of the means to achieve the goal. Storytelling enables Epic Homes to mobilise more than 6000 volunteers to build 160 homes for the Orang Asli over the past 10 years, and still growing.
WHY can be personal and special to you. Why do you want to provide food for the communities severely affected by Covid-19? Why do you believe in protecting the refugees? Why do you want to provide laptops to students for e-learning? It can be as simple as you want to give back to society or a special encounter you have or the urgency of the situations.
2. Use real story (and write in details)
Most of us love stories, the plot, opening, climax, and resolution. It allows readers to visualise and have a deeper understanding of your work and realise its importance.
Taking a look at OrphanCare Foundation’s recent fundraising campaign, they tell the story of Baby Wira (nickname). Long story short, Baby Wira was sent to OrphanCare’s baby hatch by his biological parents who are still students. OrphanCare took care of this premature baby and attended to its medical needs. Not long after, due to some incidents, Baby Wira’s grandparents found out about Baby Wira and decided to raise Baby Wira, Baby Wira is now ready to go home to his biological parents. Personally, I would not know what OrphanCare does or the importance of a baby hatch until I read this story.
Now, why would I suggest you write the story in detail? Don’t worry about the attention span of your readers, readers only skip reading if the story is boring. Writing a story in detail is how you can make it interesting as the readers follow the story’s expansion until the ending.
Bonus tip: a picture speaks a thousand words so feel free to add photos too. If your photo portraits any human, remember to seek their consent before publishing.
3. Be clear on what is your plan and how you execute the plan
Assuming you have already established your WHY, don’t stop there. Elaborate what is your plan or how you plan to bring the idea into reality.
Let’s say for instance your cause is to help refugees to earn a living by providing cooking training and outsourcing catering services to them. Go on to elaborate on your plan. You may elaborate further e.g. the selected candidates will do through 3 months cooking classes to learn how to cook, safety and the proper way to handle food.
Why is the plan important here? Ideas are just ideas without planning and execution. Clear planning will instill confidence in your sponsors. don’t worry about changes in plan, you may always update the sponsors.
4. Credibility and transparency
One of the biggest concerns that are holding back potential sponsors from donating is the lack of credibility or transparency. Sponsors are reluctant to donate if the organiser seems dodgy or the usage of the donations is not clear.
There are a few ways to showcase your organisation’s credibility. You may state clearly your vision and mission, what do you do, official website, contact details, track record, and impact to date (both measurable and non-measurable). If you are a new organisation, you may not have the benefit of an established organisation but you may still showcase who are the driving forces behind the team and what you intend to do. On the other hand, if you are an individual, perhaps you can provide a brief background of yourself.
Building credibility does not stop at the initial stage, you may continue building credibility and engaging with your sponsors throughout your campaign period even after it has ended by providing a regular progressive update. You may do so by using the Update feature under Sedunia Campaign, for every update posted, your existing sponsors will receive an email notification.
To promote transparency, we strongly encourage you to provide a cost breakdown so that the readers know how do you intend to spend the donations. If the detailed breakdown is not available, it will be good to provide a rough percentage too. The key here is to communicate with your audience.
Bonus tip: you may use some data or number if that helps!
5. Structure/ Format/ Template
If you have no idea how to structure your story or where to start, this template is for you, you may develop your story based on these key points. Feel free to adapt to your liking, the sequence is not absolute.
- About your organisation
- Your story
- The situation today
- The campaign or what is this fundraising about
- Execution plan
- Cost breakdown
- Concluding words
Tip: You may use subheadings to organise your story and use highlight/bold/underline to highlight key information for ease of reading.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope this helps you in creating an engaging campaign that captures the heart of people. I look forward to receiving your campaign submissions to Sedunia.