Pop Art Robot Hamlet

You Have No Dramatic Stories to Tell? You’re Looking at it Wrong!

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We don’t have any dramatic stories to tell! How can we tell great stories?

We don’t work with babies or puppies! We have no way to be emotional.

Have you heard or said things like this?

It’s flat-out wrong.

If you have no drama or emotion to share with donors, it’s because you’re making one (or both) of these mistakes:

1. You’re looking at processes, not outcomes

Let’s say your organization works to advocate for low-income housing in your community. What you do: Make phone calls. Write emails. Publish studies. Attend meetings.

That may be an accurate description of your daily activities and processes. It’s not the end-product. It’s not why donors give.

There’s no drama!

The process exists so you can attain the outcome, which is people who might have been homeless having homes. That’s dramatic. That’s why donors donate!

That’s the story you need to tell!

If you think the fact that your donors are giving unrestricted gifts that largely fund overhead means you can’t talk about the outcomes of your programs, you aren’t thinking clearly! Your donors need — and deserve — to hear the stories of your outcomes. They don’t care about your processes, nor should they.

2. You assume life vs. death is the only drama that people care about

Relatively few nonprofits can legitimately claim that their work directly saves lives. The rest of us participate in other kinds of drama.

Arts and cultural organizations: Nobody is going to die if the show doesn’t go on. But something important will be lost; something that deeply affects the hearts, souls, and minds, culture, and legacy of your community. Yes, it really matters. It matters a lot!

Education: People will survive without what you teach. But what is the cost to them and to society if they don’t learn it?

A lot of organizations that help people in need really don’t save lives. They make lives better. But the difference may be dramatic and heart-rending.

Have faith in the importance and drama of your cause.

Find the drama. It’s there if you look! And tell that story.

Then donors will flock to your side.

Want to learn the ins and outs of telling the right stories in the right way? Sign up here for The Fundraisingology Lab and get instant access Jeff’s masterclass: Your Blueprint for Donor-Focused, High-Revenue Fundraising Storytelling.


  • Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, and has worked as a writer and creative director on behalf of top nonprofits around the world, including CARE, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Feeding America, and many others.

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  • I keep up with a number of blogs to keep me SHARP on my own efforts. I raise funds for our family to work with an organization, and they process the money for us, and our partners/donors get a receipt for tax deductions. But I don’t actually fundraise for an organization. — But keeping up with current trends and information helps tremendously. Thank you!


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