A good story is essential to having a successful online fundraiser. Online fundraising campaigns can go viral when they have relatable, inspiring or moving stories.

People make decisions about whether to donate to a fundraiser based on its story.

The story is such an important factor that it’s easy to freeze up when you’re creating a crowdfunding page and trying to tell your story, especially if you’re not a natural wordsmith and putting your thoughts into words doesn’t come easy to you.

But, we’ve got your back if you’re experiencing writer’s block. This is a guide to making your story awesome and engaging.

You may feel that the saddest story is what gets the most donations on Mightycause, but we can tell you with confidence that just isn’t true.

Stories that are honest, personal, well-written and easy-to-read do the best on Mightycause. The story itself doesn’t matter as much as how well you tell it.

Serbest Salih raised $5,267 to build a photography school on the Turkish/Syrian border by telling a compelling story.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing your story:

Be honest. You may feel tempted to exaggerate your story, or even invent details, but people usually see through this right away. People won’t donate to pages where they feel something is “off,” and you’ll be reaching out primarily to people who know you anyway, so be honest! You won’t do yourself any favors by trying to make your situation sound more desperate than it is or going for extra sympathy points.

Get personal. You are the most important component in your fundraiser. When you make a personal fundraiser, you’re asking people to invest their money in you. So your story needs to represent you accurately and come from you. Write in your own voice and tell your story from your own perspective.

Grammar and spelling matter. You’re not going to be arrested by the grammar police if you make an honest mistake — all we’re saying is that your story needs to be readable. That means spelling words correctly, using sentences, using proper capitalization, and refraining from using slang or curse words. This is important because it shows you put time and effort into writing your story. It also shows that you are legitimate, because spam emails and fraudulent fundraising pages often contain extensive misspellings and grammatical errors. You can use programs like Google Docs or Microsoft Word to check your spelling and grammar.

Make it readable. People spend an average of 58 seconds on a website. If people come to your fundraising page and see a giant wall of text, they may take one look and get out of dodge before you have a chance to make your case. Use paragraphs and bullet points, break up the text in your story with photos, and make it visually appealing and easy to read so people will stay on your page to read your story.

Innocence Project New Orleans helped Archie Williams raise over $14,000 on Mightycause by telling his story: He spent 36 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and needed help getting back on his feet after being exonerated and released.

Your reason for starting a personal fundraiser on Mightycause may be very personal, and you may even feel embarrassment about it. It’s hard to ask for help, and many of us find it hard to put our thoughts and feelings into words. That’s all normal and okay!

Here are some tips to help you write your story and make it as strong as possible:

  1. Make your first paragraph a summary of why you’re asking for help. People may not read your second, third or fourth paragraphs, but most people will at least skim the first paragraph of a page. Try to write four sentences about your fundraiser and give the reader all the relevant facts: For what you’re raising money, why you’re asking for help, and how much money you need.
  2. Stick to the subject at hand. Make sure everything you write ties into your fundraiser’s purpose. You may be tempted, but you won’t need to write your life story. You should only write things that are relevant to your fundraiser. Everything needs to circle back to the reason you need help in the first place.
  3. Paint a picture for your reader. While it’s important to stick to the facts, you don’t want your description to be too matter-of-fact — that can be boring, and if your story is boring, people won’t read it. Add some colorful details or personal information to your story to help people connect to it. So, if you’re fundraising to throw your son an amazing high school graduation party, think about your son. What are his hobbies? What’s most special about him? Did he have any struggles in high school that make graduation especially important? If you’re writing about yourself, think about what you want people to know about you. Make a list of three things you think are interesting and important to know about you and work those items into your description.
  4. Build gratitude into your story. A lot of personal fundraisers feel the need to tell people visiting their page that they hate asking for help or feel ashamed to be running a fundraiser for a personal cause. Don’t do that! It’s okay to ask for help — that’s why Mightycause and personal fundraising exist! There’s no need to apologize for it. Instead of stating that you feel bad asking for help, write your story with gratitude built in. Let your readers know that your appreciate them and any help they can give. This is more positive, makes you sound more confident and makes reading your description more pleasant.
  5. Put key sentences in bold. Putting key sentences in bold will draw people’s eyes to them (remember that most people have very short attention spans) and make your description look more appealing. To make a sentence bold, highlight it and press “Control + B” or “Command + B.”
  6. Use bullet points and numbered lists. You have the option of adding bullet points or a list to your description. This can help you structure your thoughts if you’re struggling to write in paragraphs, and it will make information you want to itemize easier to read.
  7. Add photos. Adding photos to your story can make it so much more entertaining! While you only have one cover photo, you can add many more photos into your description. Choose photos that meet the criteria we’ve already discussed but maybe didn’t fit into the container for your cover photo, or offer add something new to your story and your page.
  8. Add a video. “Don’t tell me, show me,” was what we learned about writing in school. You can take that advice literally by adding a video to your story. Mightycause does not host videos, so you will have to upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo first, but you can embed it in your description to make your page more dynamic. (Both YouTube and Vimeo offer free basic accounts.)

If you’re really feeling blocked and none of the advice above inspired you to put your hands on your keyboard and start typing your story, here’s a basic structure you can use to construct your story.

Paragraph one: Write four sentences. Tell us who you are, why you are fundraising on Mightycause, what your goal is, and write a “call to action” (such as “please donate”). People might not make it through your whole story (remember what we said about short attention spans) so put all of the essential information in your first paragraph. Put your call to action in bold.

Paragraph two: Write four sentences with some background about yourself and why you need help. If you are fundraising for medical bills, the second paragraph is the best place to talk about the condition that put you in the hospital. If you are fundraising because you’re about to be evicted, this is the best place to detail the events that led up to this situation.

Add a photo: Add a photo to the middle of your story. This will help inspire people to keep reading! You can wrap the text in paragraph two around your photo.

Paragraph three: A third paragraph is optional, but if paragraph two is more than 4–5 sentences long, start a new paragraph. (Remember what we said about walls of text being hard to read!)

Paragraph four: Wrap it up! Write four sentences: Summarize why you’re fundraising on Mightycause, thank everyone for reading, thank people in advance for donating, and repeat your call to action from paragraph one. (And put it in bold again for even more impact.)

If you’re really feeling stuck … try what’s called a “brain dump.”

Go into a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or even grab a pen and paper, and just start writing what comes into your mind about your situation and why you need help.

Don’t worry about making it perfect or even whether what you write makes sense — just write, and once you’ve got your ideas and feelings out, you can work to structure them into a story that makes sense (using the four-paragraph structure above).

Lauren raised over $50,000 on Mightycause to start her brand new nonprofit: The Brave House. She did this through telling her own story and explaining the mission of her new organization.

Check out these helpful tools and resources to help make your story as awesome as it can be:

Power Thesaurus: If you’re having trouble finding the right words to use, try using Power Thesaurus. This can also be a helpful tool if you find yourself repeating a word over and over again.

Grammarly: Grammarly is a free app that will check your spelling and grammar for mistakes, sometimes even finding errors word processing programs like Microsoft Word missed.

Hemingway App: Ernest Hemingway was an author famous for his clear, concise writing style. This free app will help you make your story clearer — just copy and paste it right onto the page.

Google Docs: Google Docs is a free word processing program. You can use it to write your story, check your spelling and grammar, share your story with your friends to make sure it makes sense, before adding it to your page.

Brainy Quote: Sometimes a good quote can inspire your writing, and help add some color to your story. BrainyQuote allows you to search for great quotes about pretty much anything under the sun.

Finally, contact Mightycause Support here for help, feedback and support!

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