We know that stories are important in our communication with (potential) donors. And we know that not every story works for every donor. So what’s important in stories?

Why a story?

Quick recap why we want to share stories in combination with facts. Through stories we can make facts more relatable for our (potential) donors. Stories help make it easier for donors to ‘see’ and feel the importance and impact of your work. Through a story, your work becomes more personal to them. And if you’re working on something that’s their dream, too, they will be able to see that more easily. And that will help mobilise their willingness to support your work.

But what is a good story?

People like different genres of stories of course. Some of us may like horror. Others prefer romance. Or contemporary history. The same applies to your donors, too. They all have different preferences. It’s good to know what your donors like so you can use a style of storytelling that appeals to them.


Whatever genre, every story has a hero who in the end overcomes challenges and finds the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (or the prince or princess). When faced with a challenge, the hero shows us their true character. Like perseverance. Integrity. Optimism. Connectedness. Etc.

Please note that you or your nonprofit organisation are not the hero in the stories you tell! (Read on!)




Most donors will be interested in the journey. They want to see how challenges can be overcome. And they want to know how they can be a part of that.

In a sense, they need to feel like the hero in the story. They need to feel what it’s like to move from a bad situation to a better one. Like the community or cause you serve through your work.

So what’s a good story then

In short, a good story speaks about a journey. So there is a development. There are things happening or being done. And from the description an image emerges. The reader can see what’s happening and what’s being done. And they can feel like the hero – being part of a turnaround of the situation.

For example

It’s not: “We haven’t had money to buy food for the orphans.” (And now we need your wallet to buy us some).

But it’s: “We have a wonderful vegetable garden here at the orphanage. The children like taking care of it. And they like eating their own veggies. It’s a wonderful way of teaching our children about nature, food and also about what hard work can make possible. But the past weeks we haven’t seen a single drop of rain and now all our water cans are empty. The garden is wilting. And – we lost our source of healthy food for our children.” (Can you please help us find a way for sustainable gardening, water storage, and some money for food to tide us over?)

You see the difference?

How I can help

Check out my free Ten Tips to Make Clever Project Budgets: https://www.changingtides.eu/10-tips-to-make-clever-project-budgets/

If you want to learn more about how you can design a successful project, join my course Project Design for nonprofits. You can learn at your own pace and ask me anything in our live sessions and in our members only community. Find out more and enroll via this link: https://www.changingtides.eu/projectdesign

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community

You can join my free nonprofit support community on the Heartbeat platform here. This group is a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.

You can visit the community via a browser or via an app. Here is the link to download the Heartbeat chat app in the Google Play store.

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