TOPIC | Telling your fundraising story

In any fundraising endeavour, narrative matters. Too many charities fall at the first hurdle because they rush to ask for gifts before they have developed a clear and persuasive case for support.

Drafting a well argued, securely evidenced case for support is the first step in nearly all fundraising projects. Without this, potential givers will find it difficult to grasp exactly what you’re trying to accomplish or the benefits you’re promising to deliver. So, unless you can share your vision by telling a story that inspires others to get involved, fundraising success is likely to remain firmly out of reach. Here’s our guide tocreating a narrative that captures the substance and the spiritof what you want to achieve.

Making your case

First, set the scene by providing a little background to your organisation and the good work it undertakes. Potential givers need to be reassured that your reputation is trustworthy and that your activities have real charitable impact. This means talking about your major achievements, the number of beneficiaries you support, as well as giving key statistics or quotations that substantiate and sharpen your case.

Next, demonstrate the need, without being ‘needy’. Aside from global emergency appeals resulting from war, famine or natural disasters, in our experience people are rarely moved by charities telling tales of woe and despair. You’ll have a much more captive audience if you express your purpose using the language of opportunity and possibility. And, rather than making potential givers feel overwhelmed by the problem, you’re more likely to convince them that their support will make a real difference to you delivering your charitable goals.

Finally, tell people what your vision for the future is and how you’ve set about shaping it. People need to appreciate exactly what the benefits are, whether these relate to solving global healthcare problems, transforming education or providing desperately needed community space in your local area.

Client focus

Warwick Independent Schools Foundation’s One Campus+ Campaign and Treetops Hospice Care's ground-breaking plan for a residential, end of life unit in South Derbyshire, are two recent examples of projects underpinned by a compelling case for support.

At Warwick, the narrative has been built on the concept of adding the Plus factor; or the extra level of benefits afforded by a £4 million top-up of the £42 million project to create one outstanding campus. The opportunity for givers to capitalise on a major strategic investment with additional facilities and resources is easy to grasp - and from a design perspective, the Plus symbol visually reinforces the potential impact of the Campaign.

The approach at Treetops has been to champion the case for patient choice and make living, dying and remembering the very best experience it can be. Rather than focusing on worrying NHS statistics and overstretched services, the story here has been all about possibility. Offering 12 new, in-patient beds means alleviating pressures on hospital wards, but more significantly, prioritising and responding to the deepest wishes of individuals and their families.

If your organisation is facing a fundraising challenge and you need help in developing your strategy or case for support, please get in touch with one of our directors.

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