The "4 Ps" of Writing Effective Donor Stories

Congratulations! Joe and Mary Somebody have just honored their deep connection to your organization and its mission by making a large planned gift. After thanking them (and privately dancing around your desk), you want a donor story showcasing their generosity for your newsletter or Web site.

Why? Celebrating their gift accomplishes two goals: a. It publicly thanks donors for helping your organization, and b. it puts the idea of giving forefront in the minds of prospects, as well as the lifestyle and tax advantages of specific types of gifts. A well-done donor story can encourage other folks to honor your organization with their gifts.

But you're not Ernest Hemingway, Nora Roberts, or for that matter, whoever writes the back of cereal boxes. How can you craft an effective donor story?

Remember the 4 Ps:


Everyone's life is a story. You just need to find the interesting parts. When you interview donors, ask questions about the earlier stages of their lives. Sometimes you'll find a fascinating nugget or two that make your subjects more intriguing and flesh them out for the reader.

The most important details for your purposes are the reasons they were moved to support your organization. Chances are, the prospects who read their story probably care about your organization for the same reasons -- and could be spurred to give.

Capture gift PARTICULARS

We're not talking specific dollar amounts here -- no, the particulars should be why the donor chose a type of gift, if the money is intended for a specific purpose, and most important, how the gift will benefit the donor. Not your organization. The donor. By explaining their reasons for choosing a particular gift vehicle, you show prospects why they might want to give in this fashion.

Find the emotional PUSH-BUTTON

Giving money away is an irrational act. The story needs to capture the emotion that brought about the gift. Motivation for giving can vary; it might be pride that the donor can help you because of her success in life or satisfaction in making sure your organization will be around a long time, succeeding in its mission because of the gift. Ultimately, you want to show prospects why they might want to give.

PROMPT the reader to action

"Call us for more information." "Find out more about how you can help yourself and our organization through your gift." "Join our mission to..."

You get the point. End the story with a call to action for the reader to call you, visit your Web site, or e-mail you for more information. Spur a response so you can build a relationship. With any luck, one well-done donor story can be the gateway for more gifts -- and more donor stories.

Article reprinted from Pentera's Planned Giving Insider. Thank you for this beneficial information!

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