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[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

June 19, 2018

We All Have a Story to Tell

imageSharing a clear, consistent, and compelling message – your story – is the most fundamental and cost-effective way to deploy a successful fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.

Here are some first steps for developing and sharing your story:

Ask board members, clients, and donors what drives them to invest their time and money
Turn this information into outcomes that are measured over time and shared freely in person, on paper, and on purpose via social media and news outlets. “Last year, we found permanent homes for 50 rescue animals. This year we’ll exceed that by 10 percent.” “This year, our First Friday Arts Crawl attracted over 100 visitors – more than double the event’s first year.” Don’t just share your work anecdotally. Back it up with numbers.

Collect stories that resonate with those who care about the mission
Train everyone – staff and volunteers – to collect stories at the time that they see and hear them. Don’t kid yourself: “Oh, that was so moving. I’ll remember and share it at the next board meeting.” No, write it down. Take a picture. Get a quote. Do it now. Then create a culture where everyone feels compelled to do the same.

Promote the organization through content marketing that aligns with a digital marketing strategy
Forget what you learned in writing class about not repeating yourself. When it comes to sharing your stories, tell them again and again. Post them on the organization’s Facebook page. Share them with the local newspaper. Include them in your monthly newsletters. When it comes to branding, repetition is a good thing.

An integrated plan should reflect the nonprofit’s brand, including the mission (what you do), measured outcomes (how well you do it), and ongoing stories of success (what a difference you’re making). Taking the time, energy, and resources necessary to develop the plan is worth every day and dollar invested.

Becky Brown, Vice President, Columbus, Ohio

Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].

The Most Influential ‘Living Person’ in Philanthropy

Robert F. Hartsook Receives Honorary Doctorate of Business
Plymouth University, United Kingdom

Bob Hartsook was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by Plymouth University in Plymouth, England. The University described Bob as: “arguably the most influential living person improving the philanthropic donor experience.” Such global affirmation appropriately recognizes Bob and uniquely distinguishes Hartsook as the world’s fundraising counsel.”

Plymouth University honors individuals who have achieved great distinction in their professional lives and who have made contributions to society at large. In recognizing Bob Hartsook’s impressive achievements, the University has highlighted his service to the field of philanthropy, his promotion of academic study and research and his personal commitment to growing philanthropy around the world. Go here to learn more and view videos from this event.

Pictured: Karin Cox, Hartsook Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer; Julian Chaudhuri, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience; Bob Hartsook; Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Fundraising at Plymouth University and the Director of the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Jen Shang, Philanthropic Psychologist and Director of Research at the University of Plymouth Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Matthew J. Beem, Hartsook President and CEO.