Whether you are a non-profit, filmmaker, business, or entrepreneur – at some point, you have had to ask for money. Among the most effective fundraising ideas is a video. Here are 6 simple ideas to help you tell your story from Michael Kass, founder of StoryImpact.
Fundraising ideas that focus on just money usually are much less effective than fundraising ideas designed to engaged audiences at a deeper level with a thoughtful, authentic, and unique story. So how can you share you story effectively in a way that starts a stronger relationship with your audience, and in a way that compels your audience to want to engage and participate in your continued success?
In case you missed Michael’s e-lab, you can check out the video here:
Here are Michael’s 6 tips to telling a compelling story in your fundraising video:
1. Tell your origin story – why and how did you get started?
2. Tell your growth story – why do you need to grow now?
3. Tell your transformation story – why are you updating?
4. Be authentic – tell a story that resonates.
5. Be specific – give people examples they can relate to.
6. Be transparent – share where contributions will go.
Michael Kass is the founder of StoryImpact, which he started to help organizations and individuals discover the power of their own stories to create change.
If you don’t have time to watch the full video and would just like to read what Michael has to say, feel free to check out the text version below.
“I’ve worked with a lot of organizations to create these fundraising videos, whether it’s for an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign or even an email campaign. The first thing I try to do is figure out broadly speaking – what kind of story the organization wants to tell, and it breaks down into three very broad categories: the first, is an origin story.
If you have a new organization or a new program, this could be right for you. Kind of like superheroes have origin stories, so do programs. Why is this program being created now, is there something that happened, was there an interaction with a client, did they request something that spurred this on, was there data that you saw, did something shift in the outside world that made this new program seem like a good idea? Let folks know that: let them know that they can be a part of something really really special.
Now if you’ve been around for a while, maybe it’s not an origin story – maybe it’s one of the two other kinds. The first, and probably most common, is a growth story. You’ve been around for a while, you’re doing amazing things, and now it’s time to deepen your impact, to expand on your mission. For a growth story, one of the keys is – “Why Now?” Why not six months ago? Why not a year from now? What is the urgency of having this growth happen now? And again, how can people be a part of it. People want to be a part of something that is successful and growing. But what if you’re not growing?
The third type of story is a transformation story. You’ve been around for a while, you’ve seen the way things are going, maybe you’re reaching a point of diminishing returns – maybe you’re not being as impactful for whatever reason. Maybe it’s time to do things a little bit differently – so you’re going to transform. And maybe you need support to make that transformation possible.
These types of stories can pertain to organizations, but also stories about people that you’ve served. Usually – when somebody comes into contact with your organization, there’s probably some kind of transformation that takes place. They come to you with a certain set of challenges, and through your programs they are able to overcome or address some of those challenges. And on the other side, they are somehow transformed. These are very compelling stories.
One of the advantages of looking at storytelling through this broad categories is that they come with a really built in story structure. A non-profit sometimes, when people ask us what we do – we get so excited and so passionate about it, that we’ll talk for twenty minutes, and it will sort of diffuse all over the place.
By having a built-in structure, we make sure that we’re talking about it in terms of a beginning: where an organization starts, the middle—the fundraising campaign or activities that are going on, and then the end, where you’ve grown to a new level, or transformed, or just started a new program. A built in structure is really really helpful.
Now specifically with fundraising videos – there are three really important characteristics that are three qualities that successful fundraising videos have. The first, is authenticity – how real can you be? One of the most powerful fundraising videos I ever had a part in making was with an executive director – and we had a lot of ideas: it was going to flashy, with a lot of editing and music – and at the end of the day, we ended up with about a minute and a half of the executive director looking straight into the camera, and talking about why she felt so passionately that the work was important. And in about a minute and a half, she shared a beautiful story with an interaction she’d had with a client that made it so clear to her that the organization’s work continue. And she asked the people watching to contribute, to make that possible. It was incredibly authentic, very powerful, and very successful with the organization.
So the second quality is specificity – and I think of specificity in two ways. The first, is your specificity in talking about what you’re raising money for, exactly how much you’re raising, and when you need it by, so that people can track along with you. Do you need 5,000 dollars by next week? That’s a very different thing than raising 2.5M for a building in the next year. It helps people know exactly what your needs are. The other idea about specificity is in the idea of the specifics of the storytelling. Instead of saying, “He was sad” – how can you make people feel that this person was sad. What are those details that are really going to jump out at people – and make them feel the story? Not just intellectually recognize – there is a need for homeless services, there is a need for arts in schools. What does that feel like, what does that look like on a day to day basis? Because that is going to engage people’s imaginations, and their hearts, and that is going to make them much more receptive when you ask them for their support.
The third quality that is great to have is transparency. Because there is so much data out there in the world, be really transparent about where the funds are going, what they’re going to be spent on, what the impact is going to be, and then if your organization has made an mis-steps or any mistakes – this is a great place to own it, people love a comeback story. So if something has gone wrong in the last year or two, own it and enlist their help in making things better.
And just a general thought on fundraising videos and fundraising in general – is that fundraising videos as well as any campaign materials or marketing materials are part of a relationship building process, right? You’re actually cultivating a relationship by communicating with whoever is watching this video. So it’s not actually about the money. What you’re doing is you’re building a community of support around your cause. And the way that folks can join that community of support after watching your video might be to make a financial contribution.
At the end of the day, what you’re trying to do, is rally people around your mission. So in the future, it might look like showing up for volunteer day. Or it might look like donating clothing. Whatever it is, it’s never about the money, it’s about the relationship, and it’s about the fact that the people watching this video, are heroes to your organization and the people you serve.
So the more you can do to make them feel included, that they are part of your origin story, your growth story, or your transformation story – then the more effective your video is going to be.”
Fundraising ideas that work start with knowing your story, and being able to share that story effectively in a video is the easiest way for other people to share it – and help you and your non-profit, business, organization, or project start growing to reach your fundraising goals.
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