Storytelling is important for major and planned gift officers because it helps move the donor through the decision-making process. Choosing the right story at the right time is essential.
So, here are 3 types of stories you should have in your back pocket with varying lengths:
NOTE: I learned this from the book “What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story.”
1. The Who I Am Story – Describes your life journey succinctly (with emotion) including the reason why you are here now, with the donor… why it matters so much… why you care… why it’s important, etc.
2. The Who I’ve Helped Story – Describes with detail (and emotion) what other donors experienced and how they benefited as a result of working with you and supporting your organization’s mission. Remember, it’s not about you! It’s about the donor and how they benefit from giving. For old time’s sake, here’s my list of why donors give.
3. The Who I Represent Story – Describes the history and mission of your organization. It might use a timeline to describe what the organization did, what it does, what it wants to do, who it helps, and why all of that is so important (and urgent).
After telling each type of story, it is important to hand control back to the donor.
Give her an opportunity to exchange her story with you. Say, “And how about you” or “What’s your story?” Listen intently and ask encouragement questions like “Can you tell me more?” “What happened next?” and “Why?”
If you are smart, you’ll recognize that this is your opportunity to collect all the information you need in order to determine what story you should tell next. That next story should move her through the decision-making process. Do this… exchange stories… and you’ll put yourself in the position to generate more major and planned gifts.
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These simple examples are wonderful! Too often, I see our clients trying to tell a “donor story” that’s too long, weaves over too many details, and takes too long to get the point….. which is, “you too can make a difference with your legacy gift.”
I’d add one more story “type” to your list: Tell Your Own Story of Making a Legacy Gift.
I’ve seen this “gift officer” story work well. After all, you can tell your own story of why you were attracted to the mission of the organization where you work; how you’ve seen mission-delivery and how it has moved you; and finally, why you’ve made your own planned gift and what you want to accomplish with it.
After telling your own story, it’s so easy to ask: “Are you in a position to join me as a legacy donor? There are so many ways to make a difference in our future.. may I share a few examples with you?”
That might, in fact, be the most powerful story of all. Thanks Katherine!