The perfect fundraising storm I’m referring to is the creative collision between the art and science of storytelling … with the skill of interviewing to get the story … with the keen writing of powerful fundraising copy. That triple whammy yields positive results.

In life, we can’t always accurately foresee when all the elements will combine for a truly perfect storm. But you ought to at least recognize when you can interview someone for the source of a story.

And that’s what I want to help you recognize today – the many opportunities for interviewing a donor, a member, a staff member, a beneficiary of your mission, etc. to get the story you need to craft the fundraising copy that triggers response.

It’s important because the odds are that your charity or association has multiple interview opportunities for more effective fundraising and growth.

Examples of Story Interview Opportunities:

• Elderly Care Facilities (independent living; assisted living; and/or nursing home care) – Interview the residents. Use quotes or better yet profile someone. Tell why they chose your facility, why they’re happy here and what they like best, how they spend their day, and what they get out of it. Equally important … have them share why their children and other family members are glad to have their relative in your facility. What stress and worries are eliminated? How do those family members feel? You could also interview the family members.

• College, university or seminary – Profile a student who has received a scholarship. Weave their story throughout the letter and show the value of the scholarship from the impact on that student’s life. Show the difference it’s making for the student and the dreams they’re able to realize because of that scholarship. And in some appeals (e.g., email, direct mail, website), it may even be effective to share feelings from the parents who – despite all their hard work and sacrifices – had no way to send their child to college without the help of scholarships.

• Private or charter schools – I’ve interviewed the principal of the school to get their perspective. To hear the passion in their voice as they share how the new tools, programs, and equipment helped the kids in their school.

And I’ve interviewed volunteers to find out why they donate so much of their time to help the school. These interviews have been used not only in appeals to raise funds, but to encourage more people to volunteer.

• Staff members in the field – Wide variety of missions here. What’s coming to mind most of all for me right now are missions that help the poor.

Interviews I’ve done have revealed why donations are needed to fund solar-powered generators in remote locations overseas. This way children have power for their schools; a refrigerator has power to safely store perishable food; and so on. For another mission it was what it meant for troops deployed to have a chaplain available. Then there was the impact on a village to receive medical care; or for girls in Africa to have the chance to go to school. A homeless person who uses a shelter for source of food, training, and medical care. A family who can feed their children because of food available from an area food bank. Etc.

When these staff members are overseas, you may have to interview by email.

Yet, do whatever you can to augment the email by at least a short voice conversation. Why? Because the spontaneity of the live conversation is where you unearth the gems. You can dig deeper with probing questions. You can hear the passion in their voice.

How can you get the voice interview? Possibly by using Skype; or time the interview to coincide with when the staff member back in the United States on holiday or for training.

• Legacy giving – great opportunity for a donor profile which essentially applies to any and all missions. I’ve seen PBS (Public Broadcasting System) use these most effectively in TV spots. I’ve also written donor profiles based on interviews for clients to use in their newsletters, in appeal letters, for their website and in emails.

• Veterans groups – Possibilities include interviewing donors who are veterans themselves, or perhaps family members of veterans. Find out why they give and how it makes them feel. And again, you can interview veterans themselves who were “lost” until the nonprofit stepped in and gave them training and counseling as they transition back into civilian life. Tons of examples can be cited here.

Donor Profiles & Interviews GuideOne of the many benefits to your nonprofit from interviewing people and telling their stories in a captivating way . . . is that you keep your appeals “fresh”. Each letter or email throughout the year is interesting because it’s a new story. And people LOVE to read stories. We crave them.

Look at what your organization does. Make a list of all the different players you could interview for different perspectives on why it’s vital for others to support your mission.

Then combine the compelling content from that interview … with the art and science of storytelling … and use accomplished skills of writing powerful fundraising copy to create your own perfect storm.

Bottom line: The perfect fundraising storm means you get higher response and therefore you raise more funds for your charity or association. And your readers are also rewarded because they made a difference in someone’s life.

How have you used interviews to help your nonprofit?

Related posts and resources:

Donor interviews – what to ask and how to ask it

Donors do the fundraising via video

Let your donor be the hero of your fundraising appeal … and focus on one person in your appeal


Photo credit: “CaliOrg” on Flickr via

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