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Podcast | Year-End Fundraising in July: Creative Storytelling Practices to Make Year-End Asks Pop!

Every December, nonprofits around the world, including your own organization, ramp up their communication efforts to meet their year-end fundraising goals. But in this crowded landscape, it's all too common for nonprofits to blend in, struggling to stand out from the sea of sameness. As the year comes to a close, the challenge becomes even more daunting: how can your organization break free from the noise and capture the attention of potential donors who are bombarded with multiple communications each week? 

It's a battle against obscurity, where the stakes are high and the need for differentiation is paramount. In this blog, we will explore the pain points nonprofits face in their year-end appeals and uncover strategies to help your organization rise above the rest, making a lasting impact and securing the support it needs to thrive.

That’s why this week’s installment of “Year-End Fundraising in July” is focused on helping you stand out when it matters most. Listen as we dive into creative storytelling practices to help nonprofit organizations successfully navigate year-end giving campaigns.  

Going beyond merely telling donors about what you do and how you do it and instead graciously inviting your supporters to become part of your organization’s impact is critical. When your nonprofit can create a compelling story, include concrete proof points, and identify a clear goal, year-end efforts will be successful. 

According to Alyssa Boger, Senior VP of Strategy at Pursuant, being able to tell your story, whether that's the story of a beneficiary, a service, or something else, is important to identify. 

“Your own brand story is really critical for creating that connection, so you can go beyond just what you do and how you do it. Identify the impact that you're making and how the donor is a part of that impact and of the overall story,” Boger stated.


Hone in on Unique Value Proposition

Identifying an organization’s unique value proposition is equally critical. We often encourage our clients to identify what they do that no one else does. 

This starts with good listening, both from your donors and from program and support staff in your organization, says Cathe Hoerth, Associate Creative Director at Pursuant. 

“What are our donors saying to us?” Hoerth recommends asking. “What matters to them? What are they responding to in terms of types of asks?” By establishing a year-end appeal about your most popular topics, nonprofits should also remember that people give to people, not to organizations. 

When organizations can hone in on outcome language, donors will respond because of the unique impact you make in this world. 

In a place and time when everyone’s asking, the truth is that most everyone’s going to have a match – but nonprofits still have to be smart in their approach and not get into the weeds. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as identifying where a message fits best and reminding donors that they really are making a difference.  


Make Eye Contact with Photographs

We’ve all heard the adage, a photo is worth a thousand words. But the truth is that photographs do tell a story, which is why imagery plays an integral part in any year-end campaign. 

For Dom Spinoza, Chief Creative Officer at Pursuant, images are live conversations because the sender and the receiver are both looking at the exact same thing. 

“You have to make eye contact with a photograph so you’re really talking and reading the story,” Spinoza mused. With more than 30 years in the industry, the episode includes multiple insights; for example, ensure photographs always direct a viewer’s eyes back to where you want them to read. If everyone in a picture is looking to the left, then the reader will naturally look left as well, diverting their attention away from the page. 

Because storytelling and photos go hand-in-hand, Spinoza recommends pairing the two together so the final product can work as one. 

The bottom line is to do whatever you can to get photos and testimonials. Feeling stuck? Try the following:

  • Practice open dialogue with your team and with donors to allow for ample communication and the chance to get stories. 
  • Cultivate a culture of storytelling by constantly asking everyone, not just one or two departments, to identify potential stories. 
  • Pose a question in a newsletter, asking folks to send in a picture along with an answer. (Hint: be sure to follow up with a permission form!)
  • Gather stories by reading a post on someone’s social media page. Send a DM and ask if you can feature their story.  


With so many places you can look, establishing connectivity within your organization is key, whether you’re searching for pictures or listening for stories. Collaboration and input really make a difference!  


Don’t Reinvent the Wheel 

Take the pressure off: If last year’s year-end campaign strategy works and is doing well, don’t reinvent the wheel or tweak the coming year’s plan. Run with it!

Instead, use the extra time to think about employing new strategies such as inviting influencers or ambassadors to spread the word about your nonprofit organization. The large social media platforms of these individuals will easily expand the reach and bring new donors in, all because they believe in the good your team uniquely does in the world. 

Simply put, let donors see the solution made by their gift. 

The takeaway? Creative storytelling practices, including emotional appeals and multiple touchpoints, will set you apart when it comes to year-end giving campaigns. Take the pressure off by not reinventing the wheel and just tell a good story!

Want to hear more? Listen to the full episode:

Connect with Dom Spinosa

Connect with Alyssa Boger

Connect with Cathe Hoerth

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