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This article was first published on 7 December, 2018

We’ve been teaching fundraisers for 30 or so years to tell stories in their fundraising, but is this always the best approach? If it is, what kinds of stories should we be telling?

The first rule is to focus the storytelling on someone who the donor can feel connected with and a degree of empathy towards. Empathy is important in fundraising because it is the channel through which we experience emotion. If we want people to give or take another action on our behalf, we have to make them feel something. This is particularly true in the context of new donor acquisition.

So in telling stories it’s important for fundraisers to focus on the story of one individual or family. We know from psych science that a single identifiable ‘victim’ is easier to connect with, making it easier to feel emotion when we are told their story. Go beyond one or two named individuals and the…
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