7 Ways Nonprofit Storytelling Will Boost Major Gifts

This article was originally posted by Momentum on December 20, 2023.

Major gifts play a pivotal role in a nonprofit’s overall fundraising strategy. However, attracting donations of that magnitude can be a challenging endeavor. While conventional methods like sharing impact statistics remain effective, a powerful tool organizations can leverage to humanize those numbers, and subsequently increase the size of donations, is nonprofit storytelling.

Storytelling has the unique capability to establish an emotional connection with donors, enabling them to understand the impact of their contributions and inspiring them to champion a cause. In this article, we will delve into seven reasons why storytelling will boost the quantity and size of your major gift donations at your organizations.

7 Ways Nonprofit Storytelling Boosts Major Gifts

  1. Great Narratives Are Inspiring: A compelling story is essential for capturing attention and maintaining engagement. Organizations should craft a story that highlights the purpose and urgency of major gifts. By communicating a clear vision and emphasizing the need for financial support, nonprofits can empower potential donors to become part of the narrative. To create a compelling narrative, organizations must ask the right questions. Check out MemoryFox’s 20 Storytelling Interview Questions to get started asking the right questions.
  1. Stories Are More Memorable: There’s a reason your uncle has been telling the same story at every holiday gathering for the last 30 years. Stories stick with people. According to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. While a potential major donor may not know your exact mission, they will remember the video they saw telling the story of a local family experiencing job loss and food insecurity who found resources at your food pantry. At the end of the day, real-life stories of your efforts in action are what resonate the most.
  1. Transparency Is Key: Establishing trust with major donors requires transparency. Nonprofits must provide clear information about the fundraising campaign, including the desired outcomes, budget breakdown, and how funds will be utilized. When sharing these details, storytelling techniques can be employed to illustrate the journey from inception to completion, showcasing the impact of each stage. Donors appreciate knowing how their contributions will make a difference, and transparency enhances major donors’ confidence in the organization, increasing the likelihood of substantial support.
  1. Stories Engage Across Multiple Channels: Nonprofits should leverage several communication channels to distribute captivating stories to diverse audiences. Stories can be effectively and efficiently shared across social media, email, and websites. Given that social media platforms prioritize video content, If creating video content feels like a big hurdle to jump for your organization, we encourage you to start by using templates. Access our free 12 Months of Gratitude Canva Templates to get started making great content. 
  1. Narratives Ignite Personal Connections: Major donors are more inclined to contribute when they feel a personal connection to a cause and let’s face it – it’s very hard to feel connected to an impact number. Sharing personal, authentic stories humanizes the fundraising campaign, making it relatable and inspiring others to contribute. Establishing a sense of ownership and pride in supporting a cause aligned with their values and experiences increases a donor’s likelihood to make a major gift.
  1. Impact Stories Showcase Tangible Results: Donors want to see tangible results and understand the impact of their contributions. Nonprofits should utilize storytelling to share success stories, milestones, and progress updates related to the fundraising campaign. Highlighting these success stories reinforces the belief that major donors’ contributions are making a significant difference, fostering ongoing support and encouraging their continued engagement with the organization’s future endeavors.
  1. Uplifting Community Voices Showcases Diversity: Featuring stories from individuals of various backgrounds, age groups, and demographics showcase the organization’s ability to reach and positively affect a diverse community. These stories will not only demonstrate the size of the impact but also emphasize the nonprofit’s commitment to inclusivity and equality. When you use a story collection tool, like MemoryFox, you put the power of storytelling directly in the hands of your community, which gives a voice to those who historically have not always been heard. At its core, storytelling is a tool that connects people across cultures, generations, socio-economic backgrounds, and beyond. No amount of impact numbers can convey the same feeling as giving a voice to those who were previously unheard.

Embracing storytelling as a central strategy will not only elevate your major gift efforts but also deepen your connection with your supporters, creating a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. In a world saturated with information and competing causes, captivating stories have the ability to cut through the noise and resonate with major donors who are looking to make a huge, positive impact.

carly euler memoryfox

About the Author

Carly Euler
Marketing Manager, MemoryFox

Carly comes from the nonprofit world ready to elevate the hundreds of nonprofits in the MemoryFox community. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Wily Network’s Young Professionals Association, and has previously held positions at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the Code of Support Foundation, Kenya Lacrosse Association, and the BOMA Project, where she has specialized in marketing, communications, and fundraising. Storytelling has been an integral part of each role.