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What to do when your fundraising feels stale

The daily grind of writing content, analyzing results, and honing your digital fundraising skills can wear you down.

Maybe you’ve been there before. At first, you were excited to get the word out to donors about what your nonprofit is doing. But now…

You’re sitting at your computer about to create your next email appeal, blog post, or social media post.

And the thought of telling the same old story again just drains you of any excitement.

They’ve heard it all before. 

Families are in trouble. The climate is changing. Orphaned animals need a home.

What do you do when the story becomes stale?

How do you tell the same story over and over again in fresh ways without losing the plot?

Well, take a deep breath, for starters.

Raising funds is a marathon endeavor.  

The daily grind of writing content, analyzing results, and honing your digital fundraising skills can wear you down.

But consistent and disciplined messaging are key ingredients for raising donors.

Think about Nike. 

They sell shoes. They’re also a marketing powerhouse with a huge budget.

But no matter what celebrity (or athletic model) you’re watching in a Nike commercial, the story really is the same.

To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.” 

Nike’s messaging discipline is incredible—they’ve been using the same slogan since 1988!

To be successful at online fundraising, you’ll have to be as focused and disciplined. 

When you discover the messaging and the stories that resonate with your donors, you need to stick with it.

Even when you get tired of the same messaging and stories you’re telling.

So here are some thoughts on how to keep your fundraising communications fresh, even while you encourage your team to tell the same story over and over again.

Remember your “Why”

If re-telling your nonprofit’s story seems duller than it was yesterday, stop thinking so much about the “hows” and “whats” of your nonprofit and meditate for a while on its “why.”

When we forget about our nonprofit’s big purpose, our fundraising communications tend to hone in on the logistics of what we’re doing and how. 

That quickly gets dry and uninspiring.

It’s like a runner who forgets to look at the finish line because they are looking at their feet to make sure they keep making one more step. 

As human beings, we crave purpose.

Nonprofit operations and strategies don’t keep anyone motivated for long.

But telling stories that remind us all of the purpose of your nonprofit will inspire donors every time.

Stop looking at the “competition”

One thing that is sure to take away your storytelling mojo is spending time thinking about the other nonprofits in your space who are “doing things better.”  

When we stop thinking about our nonprofit’s greater purpose, we begin to look at other people and organizations as competition.

“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget the WHY they were founded for show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves.”

—Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Your nonprofit exists for a reason: to benefit the oppressed, find children’s homes, save depleting resources, rescue animals in danger, or one of many noble causes.  

It doesn’t exist to beat any other nonprofit.

When we forget our purpose, we take on pressure to outdo others or deal with issues outside our purview.

Fundraising then feels like a zero-sum game with winners and losers.

But that’s really not the truth.

Truth is, you and your clients win every time you repeat the story of your nonprofit.

Take time to hear your own stories

Take a look through your nonprofit’s collection of stories or sit down with a coworker on the program side of your organization and ask them to tell you about the difference you’re making.

The very stories that you use to inspire others to donate can inspire you to send your message, call to action, or narrative all over again.

Stories move us in inexplicably powerful ways.

They connect us to our families, friends, and our donors.

So if you feel you’re losing steam, take a coffee with a colleague on the program side and see how inspired you’ll be to get back out there and tell the stories again.

Write stories about your nonprofit’s community events

Another great way to increase your messaging enthusiasm is to craft a story from any event your nonprofit is putting on.

It’s natural to turn everyday events into narratives—we always do it around our dinner tables and coffee tables!

We’re always telling those we care about how our day went or what happened at the last event we were a part of.  

Creating stories around your nonprofit’s events can…

  • Create value around the fundraising event
  • Enhance donor appreciation by helping them recognize the significance of their contribution
  • Demonstrate that a donation is a step in a relationship, not a one-time business transaction
  • Show loyalty to your cause and donors alike

It’s also helpful to weave your nonprofit’s overarching story into an event’s communication.

Find ways to include your nonprofit’s story in all the announcements and promos before the event, updates during the event, and follow-up communication after the event.

Never stop telling your story

In the world of online fundraising, there’s no such thing as telling your story too much.

The world needs to hear from you. Your nonprofit is a conduit for the change we need to see in the world.

Your story makes all the difference.