Strong capital campaigns follow storytelling structure


Facts don’t always speak for themselves.

It may be obvious to your leadership that it’s time to update the HVAC system, address that longstanding debt or that your growing organization requires more space. But for your supporters to convene and push such projects to success, plain facts must be shared within the framework of a story. Fittingly, one of the most important pieces to any successful fundraising campaign is effective storytelling.

All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, a problem arises. The middle of the story is finding the means to solve the problem, and at the end, your problem is solved.

Accordingly, a campaign begins with a planning study that listens to your supporters and identifies (or affirms) the main problems to be solved. Once identified, it’s time to communicate the problems back to parishioners. But again, plain facts won’t do. Through this communication, it’s important to elaborate on the consequences of inaction, to highlight our responsibilities as good stewards and to outline a solution. In this case, the solution is a major fundraising effort.

The middle of the story is where most of the action happens. During the active portion of a campaign, dozens of volunteers gather, work as a team and reach out to fellow supporters to share the organization’s vision. Just as the middle of a story reaches a pinnacle or turning point, so does a campaign upon reaching the fundraising goal.

Furthermore, every good story features a hero. When approaching your campaign as storytelling, those who take up the role of heroes are volunteers and donors. Heroes thread together the beginning, middle and end of a story. Some within your organization will lead financially, others with their volunteer hours and many will lead on both fronts. All, however, are heroes and are essential.

Approaching your next campaign as a form of storytelling will ensure everyone involved connects with the project. We all want to be part of a journey that will deliver us to something greater than ourselves. Storytelling invites us into such a journey by conveying truths and engaging us in ways that plain statements don’t.

Many good stories begin a long time ago and very far away. Some, however, begin today and in your organization. If you have more questions about telling your organization’s story during a campaign or about the services we offer at the Steier Group, feel free to contact me.

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