If I told you to hire my company, you would look at what we do and make a decision but if we told you the full story of our background you would learn more of the heart and soul of our product or service. This is so important today, to so many people, more than ever. One day I was sitting with my partner at a restaurant, when the sommelier offered us a wine pairing for our meal. In the introduction to one of the wines, he told us not just of the tastes and bodies of the wine but also the story of the couple that had created it. They had both been raised in a winemaking family and had a lineage in wines. When they met, they created something new and blended together two amazing histories. This story was part of the glasses he filled.
In today’s world, everyone wants to know not only that their product is great quality but also about its creation story. Where is it from? Who made it? How did they make it? Where did they get the product to make it? Why did they create it? Marketing companies know this and they fold it into every advertisement and brand we see. Shelves around the world, market a story with their product. We even know about the small family that owns a farm on the north shore, that sells its apples to a plant to create our juice.
Story is more important to us now than ever before. In the world of nonprofits it is the gift of the story that sometimes gets overlooked. We spend so much time looking at donations as a gift of dollars and cents, that we forget that it really is a gift from the heart. No matter who is signing the check, it is the story that pushes the pen. Some organizations feel their story doesn’t have the appeal of other groups, but that is where they are wrong. All nonprofits started the exact same way! A need was identified and people that knew the need decided they had to do something about it. They poured blood, sweat, and tears into the creation of an organization to aid in the repair of that need. Your organization has a story behind it and your donors want to know it. There is a line that many use that says “people give to people, not to numbers” and that has never been truer than today.
In today’s world, statistically human to human donations are the biggest form of giving and in the age of technology the opportunity to tell your story is easier than ever. Everyone understands. Everyone knows the challenges facing our communities, so much that we want to rally together to fix these problems.
With the creation of online giving, GoFundMe pages and virtual gala’s, this opportunity to share your story far and wide is easier than ever. In fact, it is the most affordable investment to make today because of its ability to touch many people and their hearts. You can spread your message and show your story in a sincere, transparent, and easy way that can travel around the world.
With today’s online giving and virtual events, you can have donors gather together from all over the nation. Family, friends, boards, and communities can invite people to an event they would not otherwise be able to see. Some people have never heard of these nonprofits or have been invited to these events. They say the number one reason people don’t attend events is that they weren’t invited. Now the ease of inviting guests has been amplified. While you have your guests at your ‘new gala’ you can show them your mission and impact. You have an opportunity to spread the mission farther and in a clear way. Viewers don’t expect all organizations to have video quality of Marvel movies, but they can see your story shot from a nice cell phone camera or a local production company. A video can tell the heart and soul of your story and it can embed the images of your organization forever. You have an opportunity now to give your organization a new life.
Think of the image of Sara Mclachlan and the sad puppies in the commercial that went around the world (see picture to the right). Now you don’t need the budget of a super bowl ad to tell more and more people about your mission. Share the heart and soul of your organization and tell the story of you and those that you serve. Use what you have. Look into the first introduction of your connection to the organization and share that feeling. Talk to your boots on the ground workers. Ask what they are seeing and feeling today. Share their successes and challenges. Tell the story of your need in 2021 and tell the story of your why. When you match up these pieces and give donors the ability to support you, then real magic begins.
We have seen so much success with improved online giving and virtual events, that we never expected these amazing results in these trying times. The biggest successes have been from NPO’s reporting back that we were able to get 100% participation from attendees and viewers. That means that they were able to tell the story clearly enough that everyone was able to become a part of the mission.
There is a great need for clarity, transparency, and opportunity to feel better. This is a great awakening for nonprofit donors. The future of gifts will be in a story you probably have heard a million times or maybe one you overlooked but when it’s shared it can create a gift of a new believer. Someone ready to sit at the table to tell of the important works being done and inspire them to roll up their sleeves to get the work done themselves. Stories create relationships and it’s these relationships that are where the legacy donors live.
Erin Ward & Bobby D. Elhert
Virtual Event Fundraising Consultants