Crowdfunding Storytelling

Ice Bucket ChallengeSo, raising money via crowdfunding doesn’t always need a ‘story.’ Sometimes it takes a great, social game (that strategy fueled the most successful social-change crowdfund in history).

But for most efforts to motivate giving: it’s reaching the heart, tapping into the emotions, to activate giving by relating personally. It’s stories that appeal to the emotions. Go ahead – try to impress with impact, etc. but – you’re tapping into the brain. Listen to Caryn Stein from Network for G00d – I know, it starts out a little dry – (I know, ironic for a storyteller). Take her advice: TELL A PERSONAL STORY. It’ll increase donor gifts and conversions. I say: think about your reader (here, your donor) – and the story that will resonate with them – not you.

Some good takeaways (cuz, I know, it’s 59 minutes long. Poo)

Focus on one person, one problem. “Small works better than big. One works better than many.” It’s hard for us to relate to many vs. connecting to ‘one.’ It’s easier for us to connect to one person vs. a group of people. “One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.”


Focus on hope, not hopelessness. Make sure to help the donor recognize their impact – not that their action is going to be meaningless. ie: Save 1 child in a refugee camp of 100,000. VS. Save 1 child in a refugee camp of 20.

Focus on your readers (donors)’ perspective: Why is it relevant to THEM? What will they get for their donation – what is the tangible impact? Who’s the best messenger for your appeal – to tell the story? Why give / share / volunteer right now – and what will happen if they don’t.


  1. Emotion***
  2. Compelling opening (subject lines that raise curiosity and inspire fulfillment)
  3. An authentic, relatable hero as well as involving the donor
  4. Desire: A drive to change something (fix a problem, etc.)
  5. Conflict: The challenge to realize the desire / change. – Involve the donor in here as the agent of change.
  6. Compelling imagery. It looks real – tells a story of the need being met or showing the need. Images of a real person. One person vs. groups.
  7. Rich, tangible details that bring the story to life. Short – but enough to pain a clear picture of the impact of the work – that transport the reader to your story.
  8. What happens next? Call to action: links to the story, urgent, immediately actionable, clear, specific action. How they can become part of this story.

And, why should you believe her? Why not present statistics? The big picture? Because the platform she works for actually tracks the effectiveness of campaigns using these strategies vs. other approaches. Data. It’s useful, but not as the inspiring lead role in your fundraising story.


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