CDE project 18 sec­tion 3.3: action 4 — tell your mis­sion story

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 20, 2017

All fundraisers are aware they need to tell stories well so they can convey quickly in a way that engages people. Now it is even more important to spend time to understand how to tell powerful stories. There are plenty of story frameworks, such as the one below, that you can use to help refine your story and make it as powerful as possible.

The stories you tell should relate to your purpose or mission, i.e. WHY you exist. That way, if an individual, who is inspired when first hearing it, is compelled to tell others, who in turn decide to support you or continue to spread the story, it all joins up. When someone contacts you, the story they hear back is part of the same mission story they were first told, by someone they know, that prompted them to get in touch.

This should naturally follow if you have identified your focus or the purpose of your organisation. 

This is David Meerman Scott’s take on how your story needs to authentic:

Authentic storytelling sets the tone [12]

  • People want authenticity, not spin.
  • People want participation, not propaganda.
  • Your organisational story cannot be dreamed up by an ad agency.
  • The individual at the top of the company is the master storyteller, the conductor of the organizational orchestra.
  • With social networks, every employee has a role in sales and customer service and must sing from the same hymnal.
  • Buyers want information in language they understand, not gobbledygook-laden jargon.

Recommended further reading: 

Storytelling Can Change the World by Ken Burnett 

Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath

Armed with your story, you need to find places where you can engage the right audience to tell it. This may mean doing activities that you would not choose to do if you were applying a direct ROI but are excellent opportunities to engage people who share your beliefs. These following case examples illustrate the benefit from doing so.

Question to ask: What activities will provide a high level of engagement, where you can engage the right audience and inspire them about your story—even if they provide a low immediate ROI?


[12] The New Rules of Sales and Service, p. 39, Chapter 2.

Click on the image below to view project 18 in full - PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 18 summary: supporters as champions for your mission

This project will look at the basic fundraising model differently, to try to define how supporters in future can be used as channels and networks to spread opportunities, grow income and to provide donors and potential donors with a rich array of rewarding experiences.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3: action 1 - understand the paradigm shift

Putting the principles & actions into practice.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.1: action 2 - adopt the right mindset

Adopting the right mindset is probably the most important action of all. It is what you need in place at the outset and it influences the actions that follow. In time, it will be part of the overall culture within the organisation.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.2: action 3 - ask the question ‘WHY do we exist?’

‘With consistency people will see and hear without a shadow of a doubt what you believe.’

Simon Sinek

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.5: action 6 - provide an experience that donors will talk about

An ideal opportunity to inspire supporters to spread your story is simply when people give or choose to fundraise for you. It is when they have taken the emotional decision to support you.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.4: action 5 - get your supporters to share your story for you

‘Your best marketers and your best fundraisers today are not you. Your best marketers and fundraisers are the people - the ecosystem - you create around - the audience you build’

Grant Leboff.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.6: action 7 - be ready to react

As your story begins to spread by your supporters, you should get an increase in inbound enquiries or offers of support that are not a result of a direct response communication, i.e. they are a result of people hearing your story from others they know and trust.

Read more

CDE project 18 section 3.7: action 8 - set up new measures

Adopting a mindset of how to inspire people to spread your story rather than target them for money will need new measures away from direct ROI. 

Read more

CDE project 18 section 4: characteristics of applying these principles

Check here to see the characteristics you would expect to see of a charity applying this approach.

Read more

CDE project 18 appendix 1: sources

Sources that informed and influenced this project.

Read more

CDE project 18 appendix 2: Sticky Marketing & Digital Selling

In November 2016, Rory White, founder of Flow Caritas, hosted an event with Grant Leboff, author of ‘Sticky Marketing’ and ‘Digital Selling’. A group of Directors of Fundraising were invited to hear his views on marketing, and how it applies to fundraising. Here is an edited transcript of his key address to the group, reproduced with permission from Grant and Rory. 

Read more