Thought Leadership

How to write more compelling impact stories

When people know how your cause, foundation, or charity is making a positive impact, they’re more likely to want to fund more positivity.

David Brouitt

Categories: Thought Leadership

February 16, 2017

Fundraising is about connecting people to a mission and making them part of it. This starts with a story someone gets behind.

When people know how your cause, foundation, or charity is making a positive impact, they’re more likely to want to fund more positivity. Sharing your successes in a captivating way can be a vital element in your communications strategy because it shows current and potential supporters that your work is working.

This kind of content is called an “impact story,” and the keys to making them effective aren’t difficult.

1. Be real

Authenticity is the key to telling great stories, and the unembellished truth is more than enough in most cases, despite what you might be feeling in the moment. Use real images of the people you’re showcasing (always with permission) and approachable language. Remember, this is not a fact sheet or a technical document. It is a story about real people facing real challenges, and the great work you are doing to make things better.

2. Be concise

“Keep it simple” applies to all creative exercises and your impact story is no exception. If your story is tight and engaging while saying everything you need to say, you’ll stand a much better chance of holding your audience until the end.

The easiest way to achieve this is with an outline of the piece before you write it. Think of it like the foundation of a house. You don’t see it, but the structure falls apart without it. Another tip is to intentionally exclude or remove anything your audience already knows.

3. Provide context

At the same time,  don’t assume your audience has the background you do. Take the time to set the scene and/or fill in any blanks. This context will set the rules for the canvas you’re building your story on.

4. Tap into the emotion

Stats and numbers don’t move hearts, so use them sparingly or as visual accents (like a sidebar graphic). Save your impact stories for eliciting feelings. So, for example, if you are featuring the plight of a homeless person, try to capture the true feeling of cold, and juxtapose it with words that feel warm, when you’re describing the help your organization provides.

5. Be clear on your goals

If the story’s purpose is designed to showcase success, direct readers to more stories instead of asking for money. When your goal is fundraising, you can be more direct. Just make sure you are clear at the outset of the project what the desired outcome is, as this will inform what your call to action is.

Telling strong impact stories will increase your chances of raising more money to make more impact. If your stories could be more interesting or more effective, let’s talk.


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