photo by myslegj on flickr

My colleagues and I at Good Works have been preaching the power of storytelling in philanthropy for years now. We’ve learned from our research – and our experience with clients – that nothing moves donors to give more effectively than a well-told story that’s appropriate to its mission.

Recently, more of our work has been in the area of website makeovers. We work with clients to make their sites more interesting, focused and easy-to-use for the donor or prospect. Naturally, we encourage fundraisers to include storytelling on their websites – for all the same reasons that we encourage stories in other media channels.

I visit several fundraising websites every day. And, I’m delighted that so many of us are using stories on our sites. I’m encouraged that the ‘power of narrative’ message is really getting through to fundraisers and marketers in our sector.

But, many (if not most) of us are only using stories in a half-right way. Let me explain…

All too often, I look at a site’s navigation bar – and there’s a tab called ‘stories’. I click on that tab, and all the stories are there in one place. I think that’s a pretty big mistake.

I would much rather see stories used throughout the website to illustrate the point that the page is trying to make. Let me share some examples:

  1. On your legacy giving page, use a testimonial from a bequest donor – talking about her connection to your cause and her reasons for leaving you a gift in her will.
  2. If you have pages that describe your programs/services, include stories from service providers and recipients.
  3. In your ‘who we are’ section, have your Board Chair tell her story – emphasising why she’s so deeply committed to the cause and to your organization.
  4. Even your audited statements could have a story from your treasurer, talking about how seriously he takes managing your money – and what a deep duty he feels to donors to spend their dollars well.

The list goes on and on. In fact, I’d challenge you to find a single section of your web site that wouldn’t benefit from a good story.

So why not spend 30 minutes touring your own website – and make a list of all the places where a story could fit? Then, find your storytellers and make the magic happen!

Banner image credit: julochka on Flickr via Creative Commons.