Yes, you’ve heard it before, including from The Agitator … “Use stories.” “Tell your donor a story.” “Stories engage emotionally.” Etc, etc.

But will any story do? Obviously the same story doesn’t work for every prospective donor, however carefully targeted and apparently similar they might be.

Consider the view of marketing guru Seth Godin. He rarely comments directly on fundraising, although many of his insights are certainly relevant to our special type of marketing.

He did happen to offer some fundraising advice over the Thanksgiving break — not great timing for a marketing whiz — and I didn’t want to see it fall through the cracks.

His blog post asks: What do we get when we give to a good cause?

His answer: A story.

Says Godin: “The fundraiser … isn’t taking, she’s giving. She’s giving someone the chance to buy a story that’s worth far more than it costs.”

His advice:

“Introducing tote bags or charity auctions muddies the waters, gets us thinking about the value of that thing we bought, not the story itself.

If people aren’t donating to your cause, it’s because you’re not telling a story, or telling the wrong story to the wrong people (in the wrong way). Non-profits make change, and the way they do this is by letting us tell ourselves stories that nurture our best selves.”

Sounds right to me.

Tom

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