Tip Sheet: Telling Your Story to Donors

Everyone loves a story – and heritage places have stories to tell. The story of your heritage place is a crucial piece of your fundraising plan. It will carry over to all your materials [flyers, website, e-mails, and donor appeals]. Telling it in a compelling, emotional, engaging and inspiring way will win you donors.

Your Fundamentals

Crafting Your Story

Your story needs to convey what your project is about, why you need support, and how donors can impact your success.  You need to do it in a way that engages donors and helps them identify with what you are trying to achieve.  Think about how you can capture the interest of donors who aren’t buried in the details of your project.

Compel, Engage, Inspire

Statistics and project plans don’t engage donors. Bring your heritage place to life by telling a story about the history of what happened there, the people that were part of it and the roots that tie it to your community. Instead of talking about fixing a leaking roof, find those elements that speak on an emotional level that will engage your donors and leave them asking “how can I help”.


Pictures and videos will capture the attention and imagination of donors where a thousand words cannot. Pictures should be of a quality suitable for print reproduction and online use. Include people in them and use them to support your storyline. Keep videos short, entertaining and focused on your story. A video should be no longer than two minutes, so plan it in detail before recording. Just like pictures you can use more than one video. Consider making videos that focus on particular elements of your story.

The end of the story is the call to action. Now is the time to talk about the leaking roof i.e. “We need your support to help fix the leaking roof before we lose all that history.”  Demonstrate how donors can make a difference. Remember that you want to retain donors throughout your project so plan your follow-up stories to keep them informed about your progress [through newsletters, videos, site visits etc.].

Before You Start - Ask Yourself:


What are the stories about your heritage place that would engage and inspire donors?


What images can accompany your story?


What are the follow-up stories that will keep donors engaged in your project?