#TellYourStory to Attract Donors

Whether you are a small non-profit organisation or a government, stories matter.

Private donors, international donors, charities, and individual contributors love stories.

I remember in the early days of cable TV, late night and early morning advertising slots were filled with stories of little black children, with distended bellies and flies buzzing around. The images were disturbing but they were effective. The charities wanted to show how bad things were in Africa and why more privileged people could feed a child for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day.

While the charities made millions they also reinforced a narrative that Africa was a continent of poverty and they needed the Western World to bring them into a better standard of living. We won’t debate whether it was wrong or right here, but the images and the story they told presented a view which was to stimulate an emotional and financial response from viewers. After much pressure, the charities switched to positive images and to show the successes rather than the negative. But the damage had been done.

Sadly, those negative images are making a comeback as we’ve become even more dependent on visuals with social media and now some have labeled it “poverty porn“. But this is not the 80s and you aren’t as free to share photos of children or people in negative situations without consideration of their right to privacy and dignity.

But I digress.

Stories and images create impact. If you want to get donors to give to your programme you need to share a story which elicits an emotional and financial response. How can you do that without infringing on the rights of others? How can you tell a story that causes others to want to know more about your work, promote your organisation and more importantly, contribute to it?

The answer can be found between the two worlds of negative and positive stories.

It comes down to results. What is the problem that your organisation sees? What do you want to do about it? What have you tried already? What worked and what didn’t? How can others help you accomplish the goal? What have you done with the contributions received? How much more can you do with continued support?

You can’t simply have an idea. You need to show you have taken steps to test the idea. Whether you attempted to help five people or 5000, show the impact. How have lives or communities been changed by your efforts?

There are millions of good projects happening daily all over the world. What will make someone give to your work over someone else’s? How your story resonates with them will be the difference. Show accountability, show sustainability, show innovation and show outcomes.
Once they have given, then as long as they have not asked you to keep their contribution private, you need to shout at about.  Share your appreciation for their generosity and encourage others to do the same.


I love telling stories. I help my clients from the private and public sector to leverage traditional and digital media to increase their visibility and make more money. I am a mentor, business strategist, a certified Business Continuity Specialist and the author of seven books, including the Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for more great tips and ideas to help you grow.