Is your storytelling fit for fundraising?

Jaz Nannar | April 9th, 2015

I watched the BBC documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’ recently and I’m still having trouble shedding some of the words that were said. Truth be told, I don’t want the words floating about in my head. I don’t want the image of Jyoti Singh’s parents talking to me – and it felt like they were talking to me – about the gang rape of their daughter. I don’t want to remember one of the men who was found guilty talking about how it’s the girls who go out at night that are asking for trouble and they shouldn’t fight back. It’s best for them to let the rape happen, he said.

I scan past the images of men being thrown off tall buildings for being gay and, if they survive the fall, being killed by a mob below.

I turn the radio off and never watch the news in front of my kids because I think they are too young to know that this stuff exists.

It’s true. It is the stories – through words and pictures – that stick in the mind. Even when you want to shake some of them off.

A couple of weeks’ ago I interviewed some supporters. And I can’t shake some of those words off either. Jeanette said that she and her local branch had being raising money for women and children at a refuge. They came bearing gifts for the children but the staff mentioned that the women often received nothing. Jeanette asked the staff what the women needed. And the answer was simple. A diary so that they could log all of their appointments with social services, health professionals and so on.

Jeanette didn’t just listen to what they said. She understood that a diary was a bit of a luxury item to the women in the refuge. And so when she delivered 30 diaries a week later, she came bearing good-quality, leather bound ones. The staff had tears in their eyes. Jeanette was clear. She wanted the diaries to signal her desire for the women to have the best possible life. Not the cheapest, most disposable one.

If she’d asked me for a donation on the phone as I interviewed her, I would have happily funded the next 30 diaries. Because I cherish the spirit of life not being cheap and disposable and there for someone else to take as easily as I pop to the local shops. Because in the times we are living through, it feels like the first bit of genuine goodness I’ve seen in a while. And because I can actually do something about it. In a way that I can’t with the things that feel too big for me to change.

What’s the lesson for fundraising?

Can you tell a story that serves up an opportunity that makes me feel my donation can make an impact?

Something real and genuine that sticks in the mind, like these stories stuck with me?

Something that brings to life the problems you’re trying to solve and why your way of tackling it will make all the difference?

Something that lingers long after your attempt to interrupt my day has gone.

That’s the key to have me – and others like me – grasping the opportunity to help that you’re offering.