Facts Tell, But Stories Sell

March 27, 2018

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Written By: Danny

By Dan Maier


This month, the Donor By Design Team is discussing campaign readiness: the things that (should) happen before you begin a major fundraising campaign.  Today, Dan Maier illustrates the importance of being able to share your vision in a compelling way to prospective donors.


A wise volunteer’s story recently reminded me of what I knew from my journalism classes so many years ago: facts tell, but stories sell.

While facts, numbers, budgets and strategic plans are important, when it comes to philanthropy – whether a large capital gift or renewing a gift on an annual basis – it is personal stories that move donors to give. It is the passionate portrayal of your mission and impact through one story, of one life changed, that can move your supporters more than any facts or figure.

So how do you bring this to life?

It is easier that you think. We call it a “vision tour.” Some call it an “impact tour.” Whatever you call it, the elements are simple. It is a short 45- to 60-minute visit with a prospective donor, best conducted at your place of impact, but you can even take it on the road. And in those 60-minutes, you (or your program staff or a key volunteer) take those facts and numbers and turn the conversation into true impact through the gift of storytelling. As you take your guest through only three or four stops, you combine those facts and programs into stories of lives changing, communities transforming, and challenges being met and solved through their support. In the end, they’ll know that their donation will make an impact.

I know this may seem challenging, but be assured that’s only because it is new to you. Here’s one aquatic director’s vision tour stop after we just practiced a little. While it’s a few years old, the technique is relevant today. Note how she moves from numbers to names telling Alleeya’s story.

My colleague Jon Simons reminds us to stop talking about your programs and start lifting up your purpose. And that while numbers and statistics are important, we need to lead with the human story and give it a name. It’s not about the dollars needed, but the change that will happen as a result.

If you want to learn how to build your own vision tour, let us give you a hand.

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2 responses to “Facts Tell, But Stories Sell”

  1. Jan Jan Brogdon says:

    Great job Nicole! Who knew a Development career would come from your passionate ability to make the cause come alive for others! So proud of you!

  2. John C Alexander says:

    Great story about the story, Danny!