Telling Your Story
Now that you’ve set your goal and your timeline, it’s time to craft your CausePage story. Your story is perhaps the single most powerful tool at your disposal when raising money. Stories give you the opportunity to emotionally connect with your supporters. And, it’s that emotional connection that drives their decision to give.
Before you put the pen to the paper, or fingers to the keyboard, review a few of our tried and true tips for creating an emotionally compelling story that will have your supporters wanting to be a part of it.
KNOW YOUR STORY
Crafting your CausePage story can seem like an overwhelming task. You know the story in your heart, but laying it out and onto your CausePage is an entirely different thing.
We recommend taking a few minutes to write down everything thing you know about your story.
Use some of these prompts below to get you going:
- What is this story about and who is involved?
- Who benefits from your fundraising?
- What is the hurdle and who needs to overcome it? Is the hurdle:
- An adoption process
- Medical cost
- Funding your mission trip
- How much money do you need to get over this hurdle?
- What will these funds enable you to do, or do for the beneficiary?
Consider this a prewriting phase to get down everything you know about your CausePage. This will help you focus and gain clarity. It will also help you be able to complete this very important statement:
“I am writing to you, the supporter, because….”
Consider it your purpose statement. You need to be able to complete this sentence simply and directly. If you can’t, you need to do more prewriting work. Your goal should be to get the heart of your story down to one simple statement that will guide the rest of your writing.
“I am writing to you, the supporter because Raul and Pedro in Guatemala need fees to attend school, and with your support, we can make that happen.”
Consider a statement like this statement your guiding principle as you write.
Your story should have two major characters: the beneficiary and the supporter. You might be thinking, what about me? Don’t I get a starring role, too?
The answer is, of course, you do! You are awesome for taking the initiative to do some good, but, consider yourself as more of a supporting role with the beneficiary and the supporters as the leads.
If you only talk about all the great things you’re doing or planning to do, it doesn’t really make the supporter feel like there’s any room to participate. And, if he or she doesn’t feel like there’s room for them in your story, then they probably won’t take action.
Also, when it comes to the beneficiary, the supporter wants to know who they’re helping and to feel emotionally connected to THEM. So, it’s important to give the beneficiary a starring role. Make them come to life for the supporters, and they will be that much more driven to give to your CausePage.
Talk directly to your supporter. Use phrases like the following to establish their role in your story:
- Without you, this will not be possible.
- Your support will directly affect the lives of children like Raul and Pedro.
- With your support, Raul and Pedro will be able to get an education which will impact their communities for the better in the future.
Use your pronouns wisely. Think YOU and WE over I and ME.
Speaking of Raul and Pedro, make your beneficiaries real and concrete and not overly general and abstract. That means be specific! Remember the prewriting exercise we had you do? This is where all that work helps out.
- Who are Raul and Pedro?
- Do you have pictures?
- What do they look like?
- What do they love?
- Do their smiles and laughter light up the room?
- How will their lives benefit from getting to go to school?
You get the idea. But, make your beneficiary real, and you’ll get some real funds from your supporters.
Don't rush the ending
This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but don’t be in a rush to get to ‘happily ever after’ just yet. You want to create a story that’s not quite finished.
Because, by leaving the story unfinished, you’re giving your supporter the opportunity to be the hero of your fundraising campaign. They get to decide, “Do I make a difference, or do I not?” That’s pretty compelling stuff.
Leave the ending open for the supporter to decide how the story will end. Will Raul and Pedro be able to attend school? Or will they run the risk of missing out on getting an education? Let the supporter be the hero, and use your CausePage as the vehicle that enables her to do some good.
THE OUTLOUD TEST
Sometimes when we’re writing a story, it’s easy to fall into the trap that it has to sound like prose from the Great American Novel.
Great news! It doesn’t!
In fact, if your story is sounding more like a novel than a story, you might have your readers feeling that it’s overdramatized and not real.
And, if they feel like it’s not real, then they won’t feel compelled to give.
Write your story like you are talking to, or emailing with, an old friend, and you are telling them all about your cause. Make it at least 10 sentences long. Then, when you’re finished, read it out loud. Does it sound natural, like you’re talking to someone you know? Or, do you come off sounding more like Ernest Hemingway or an executive director?
Supporters want to feel like they are on intimate terms with the people they’re supporting. They want to feel like they know you and the beneficiary. Be yourself and use words that you normally would. Be conversational. Otherwise, you’ll come across as sounding forced or false which gets in the way of that emotional connection.