Why you need stories to raise funds

Life and Mission

Jun 20 2022 • 9 mins


You need to tell stories to raise more funds for your mission, ministry or nonprofit. But why is that? What exactly is it that stories do?

Every known culture tells stories. This is the way we make sense of the world and our place in it. All through the donor journey, especially with people who are not yet aware of you and your mission. Stories help draw them in, and help them get to know, like, and trust you.

Why Tell Stories?

  • Stories help us connect – When you listen to a story, your brainwaves  actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller.
  • Research shows compelling stories cause our brains to release oxytocin, increase empathy, and have the power to affect our behaviors.
  • Stories help us remember who we are and what we’re about. Donors give to their values. Telling stories that reflect those values help donors make good decisions about whether you’re a good match for them.
  • Stories reveal truths – your storytelling can help people see the world in a new way. Shift perspectives, overcome prejudices.
  • Stories offer dignity and context for beneficiaries, and give them a voice.
  • Stories put our critical minds aside for a moment, and we willingly enter into the narrative. We try to find ourselves in the story.
  • Stories give us context to make sense of all those things.

You don’t just “need a story” to fill a space in your newsletter. You need a story to show donors what they can accomplish by giving to your mission. Where do they fit in this story? Not just through giving, but in the big picture of a world where this thing is a problem. They can reflect their values, glorify God, ease suffering, and experience deep personal satisfaction by stepping into this story and playing an active role.

In our ministries, stories are an invitation into a world most people haven’t experienced. If I live in America and I’m immersed in church culture, and all my friends are Christians, I don’t give much thought to what it’s like to not know who Jesus is. To not have ever seen a bible. So, when you say you need funds to go and preach the gospel, or to live in another culture for several years so they can have a bible in their language, you can’t just start there. You have to bring donors into that world and give context to what you do and why you do it. You do that with stories.

I’m convinced one of the most powerful helps for us to tell better stories is to think about why we tell stories in the first place!



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Three Essential Stories Every Missionary, Ministry, and Nonprofit Needs to Tell
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