Good storytelling 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. And putting together your thoughts and ideas into words doesn’t come easy, especially if you’re not a natural wordsmith. But, we’ve got your back if you’re experiencing writer’s block. This is a guide to making your story awesome and engaging!

Stories that are honest, clear, 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. Donors value transparency when it comes to supporting nonprofits and fundraisers. Be clear and transparent about your reason for fundraising and what you specifically plan on doing with these funds.

Make it personal. Your nonprofit’s impact is the most important component of your fundraiser. Your story needs to represent your nonprofit accurately and come from you. Write in your own voice and tell your nonprofit’s 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 professionalism and that you put time and effort into writing your story. You can use programs like Grammarly, 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.

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 fundraising. 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 answer each of the following questions in one brief sentence:
    • What does my nonprofit do?
    • How would a donation affect my organization?
    • How can a donor support my organization?

    If you are having trouble answering these questions concisely, try this exercise: how would you describe your organization to a child?

  2. Stick to the subject at hand. Make sure everything you write ties into your fundraiser’s purpose. Everything needs to circle back to the reason your fundraising 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 to your story to help people connect to it. So, if you’re fundraising for a new addition to your animal rescue, who are the animals you rescue? What’s most special about your location?
    Make a list of three things you think are interesting and important to know about your nonprofit and work those items into your description.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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 the information you want to itemize easier to read.
  6. Add photos. Adding photos to your story can make it so much more entertaining! While the Mightycause fundraising page allows you to add one primary cover photo, you can add additional photos to your description. Choose photos that meet the criteria we’ve already discussed, images should have a purpose and offer something new to your story and your page.
  7. 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, here’s a basic structure you can use to construct your online fundraising story.

Paragraph one: Write three to four sentences. Define two to three key messages that you want supporters to know about your nonprofit. What is your mission? What is your vision for your work? Why do you do what you do? If you are peer-to-peer fundraising, why are you fundraising for this particular nonprofit? Include a “call to action” (such as “please donate”). Put your call to action in bold.

Paragraph two: Write two to three sentences that define two to three key messages about your fundraising campaign. What are you trying to achieve and why? Your top-level nonprofit key messaging gets filtered through your campaign messaging, creating talking points that speak to your nonprofit’s mission and core values & communicate why your current campaign is important.

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 two sentences: 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 or grab a pen and paper, and just start writing what comes into your mind about your campaign and why your fundraising.

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, and share your story with your colleagues, board of directors, or 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.

Canva: Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide range of visual content, including social media graphics, infographics, presentations, posters, documents, and more! The best part of Canva is that their premium subscription is completely free for nonprofits.

Want to learn more?

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