Seeing Storytelling as Stewardship


Yes, it’s commonly known that story writing inspires fundraising.

But there’s another secret weapon of storytelling, one that doesn’t get as bright of a spotlight: storytelling as stewardship.

Frequently, organizations will engage M&C to interview top donors…those who’ve made large or planned gifts. In these cases, often the process of gathering the “why” behind the gift is just as important as the resulting communication piece.

I interviewed a man once who had made a substantial gift to a veterans’ cause. He wasn’t a veteran himself. He didn’t have a family member who had served. It wasn’t a “typical donor” for this organization.

I asked him what inspired his gift. His childhood best friend went to Vietnam and was killed. Tearfully, he told me his friend was the best person he’d ever known. He hadn’t seen him since grade school.

Telling the story was cathartic for this donor. He regaled me with tales of their neighborhood, boyhood bloopers and why this tribute made his life come full circle. The act of sharing this story was powerful for this donor, and I was honored to be part of it. I know the experience made him reflect positively on this organization as well.

So why are these profiles so effective all around?

  1. They show donors that your organization appreciates and honors them. It says thank you.

  2. It offers a platform for donors to pay tribute to others who may have inspired their gift and provides an enduring testament to their generosity.

  3. It offers your organization another warm touchpoint, a way to express how their gift will be used and reinforces the impact (which platforms for future giving).

  4. It highlights giving possibilities to potential donors. It also helps people to see that it isn’t always gazillionaires who make these types of gifts.

One last reminder. Once the stories are drafted, be sure to get full approval from the donors (and a photo release). It’s an important step and one that shows respect for the donor’s time and experience. Be sure to use the content in a variety of media, including your website, social media and send a printed copy to the donor.