Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs
You can't read more than a few paragraphs about fundraising practice without being told that telling stories is the key to success. (my book, for example, has a chapter about this.)
Yes, you're going to do a lot better if you show donors through stories why they're needed and what their gifts will do than you will with iron-clad facts and statistics.
But there's more to it than that. Not every story is equally powerful. That's what Story Wars is about. And that's why you should read this book.
It's a hands-on look at the type of stories that touch people and affect their behavior. Drawing heavily from real life, it both dissects the elements of successful stories and leads you through the process of building your own.
There's a lot there, but the insight that I think fundraisers need to pay the most attention to is this:
If you are the hero of your own story ... you wind up with only a single compelling character -- yourself.
We can create far more compelling stories by realizing that our brand is not the hero, our audience members are.
That is a Big Deal. It separates the stories that make a difference from the stories that don't. And it got me thinking about the three most common story types we use in fundraising:
- Almost never works: The nonprofit as hero. Our dynamic, cutting-edge methodologies and excellent staff are the best! It's mainly empty bragging, and thus not interesting.
- Sometimes works: The story of a beneficiary in need. Here's dramatic proof that our work is needed. When it's a great story, it moves donors to care and to give. The story isn't always great, though.
- Usually works: The donor as hero. Here's your chance to make a difference! This is the real story you should always tell. In fact, the two other types of stories only work at all because the donor makes it part of her story for you.
Fundraising really is all about telling stories. But it's about telling the right story in the right way.
I urge you to read Story Wars to deepen you understanding the power and use of stories.
Available at Amazon.