Most fundraisers realize the importance of telling their story to donors.  We know it needs to be passionate and personal since it’s critical to effectively communicate why donors should support your cause and how donations are making a difference.  In fact, I would say that the basis of all fundraising is through storytelling.  Donors need to feel that personal connection with you and your organization and the key to making that connection is through your story.

One example that has always stuck with me is the story told by Save the Children in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  They created an excellent success story page on their web site that would be a great template for any non-profit to use.  The beauty of this page is that Save the Children takes a three-prong approach to sharing their stories: children success stories, donor success stories, and corporate partnership success stories.  I think this is a genius way to highlight and thank the three most important components in their development efforts.  All three are intertwined but play different roles, and the professional and creative staff behind this organization instills confidence in the donor.

Nothing is more impactful than a descriptive tale of donations at work. This is an effective way to build that personal connection with the donors.  Who isn’t going to feel a pull at the heart when they read the story of a child overcoming malnutrition. By sharing these stories, you give a voice to the people the donors are supporting.  Notice, too, that each story is about an individual child that has benefitted through the generosity of others.  It is much more relatable when you read the story of one child as opposed to 1,000 displaced children.  Keep your stories very specific and personal.

Pictures are also a great method to add to your text.  With each success story, Save the Children has an accompanying picture.  The picture of the child with the milk mustache speaks volumes to the story on malnutrition.  It helps donors visualize the story, making it more personal and tangible.  Don’t underestimate the importance of visuals when sharing your story.

Following the children’s success stories is the donor’s success stories.  In the story “Spring Cleaning for Smiles,” we learn how one child donating the gifts from her Bat Mitzvah inspired her family to take a trip to one of Save the Children’s U.S. programs, deep in a remote Appalachian coal-mining community, to see their donations at work.  The family was so moved by their trip that they made a commitment to do more, have now held 13 annual community yard sales and send the proceeds to Save the Children.  I loved this story because it was very relatable.  It began with a simple effort of a 13-year-old girl and built into a 15-year relationship between her family and Save the Children.  This story shows how easy and very rewarding it is to make a difference.  I believe sharing donor stories can plant the seed and inspire others to become more committed or to think outside the box of ways to support your organization.

Under Corporate Success Stories, Save the Children details their partnership with TOMS Shoes.  Along with the video, the text on the page highlights poverty statics in the US and what it means to grow up in poverty.  You can’t help but read these statistics, watch the video and want to help.  Through their partnership with TOMS, Save the Children could donate shoes to children in five states.  Another moving corporate success story is with IKEA.  Save the Children shares a moving story of rebuilding a Head-start facility in Brooklyn that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy through a partnership with IKEA. In this story Save the Children uses pictures to show their staff working alongside Ikea employees to rebuild the school.  They also showed before and after pictures of the classroom.  Pictures help tell the story.  I could imagine the children happily playing in their newly constructed classroom.  These stories of corporate philanthropy certainly make you want to support Save the Children, IKEA, and TOMS.

One last note on sharing your story, notice on each page there is an option to “donate now”. The button is prominently featured on each page in a read box.  Don’t drop the ball by sharing great stories but not giving your donors an easy, actionable next step to help your organization.

Since man could first speak, we have been telling stories.  It is the way we exchange ideas, share values, and establish relationships.   For a non-profit, the ability to tell stories is a key way to connect with donors and inspire them to support your organization.

If your non-profit is interested in learning more about our matching gift services, please visit, email or call 800.681.4438. We would be happy to help you analyze your current matching gift strategies. We also have an extensive collection of matching gift marketing strategies to review online in our Learning Center