Telling a Smarter Story to Maximize Fundraising

When it comes to sharing your mission and impact to maximize fundraising, it can be easy to fall into the trap of “the more specific the program alignment, the better.” And although personalization can feel like the golden ticket to building connections with potential donors, it limits the funder’s ability to understand and buy into the organization’s broader priorities and impact.

Restricted funds often come from a place of good intentions: fundraising staff seeking to prove the good that the organization is doing around the funder’s specific area of interest. But this can unintentionally lead to a lack of flexibility in funding, creating barriers that limit the organization’s growth and ability to be nimble.

Instead of narrowing in on one specific program for the funder, our team at Good Scout Group recommends reflecting their particular program interest within the bigger mission. This maximizes flexibility with funding while still connecting with your donor base in a way that feels personal and impactful.

Here are some examples of how telling a smarter story can help your organization maintain control over funds, maximize fundraising, and further the mission effectively and strategically:

Problem: Your organization’s mission is too complex for the general public and supporters to grasp.

Solution: Tell a smarter brand story by simplifying it for the general public.

Data can be a convincing tool to show the value of your mission and the impact your organization is having on the ground. But too many statistics—or statistics used in the wrong way—can hinder communication by cluttering your story and detracting from the main point.

Nonprofits in the health and science sectors, for example, often have missions focused on bringing about meaningful change to a statistic. That change might be increasing global access to immunizations, improving mortality rates caused by climate-change-related events, or minimizing the instances of a life-threatening illness by developing a cure. But no matter what the mission is, engaging corporate funders doesn’t come from simply amplifying every number you have. Instead, you want to use data strategically and sparingly to point to first to the impact and then to the humanity behind your mission.

According to Evelyn Allen, Vice President of Client Experience and Insights at Good Scout, “Clear communication always keeps your audience in mind from the outset. Your goal is to express your mission work in a way that resonates with other human beings, whether they are individuals or groups of people in communities or companies, and inspires them to get involved and support your organization.” Your audience will include people from many backgrounds who need to hear a clear and resonant message. Avoid overloading your fundraising messages with excessive details or in-the-know jargon. While it can be tempting to share every aspect of your mission impact—especially when you are passionate about your work—it is always best to keep communication crisp. Strive for simplicity, using language that fosters compassion, empathy, and, most importantly, clarity.

Problem: Your case for support overly emphasizes specific programs, resulting in limitations imposed by restricted funds.

Solution: Group similar programs together under a larger impact story and sell the mission at that level.

Accessing unrestricted funds hinges on the art of organized storytelling. While it can be tempting to pare down your mission and emphasize a specific impact story that will connect with a funder, program-specific funds often create more challenges than they’re worth. “Historically, nonprofits have very much focused on the big picture. But now the pendulum has swung the other way, and they’re thinking, ‘Let’s start segmenting our storytelling down to a level where it’s really customized for that person.’ But that can be just as detrimental,” shared Charisse Brown Marcus, President and Managing Partner at Good Scout.

To mitigate this problem, it’s crucial to work closely with your program team to determine the best way to share impact stories. Create a framework with several different themes that align with your mission. Then, bucket your existing programs under each of those themes, taking the opportunity to ensure they’re in harmony with your organization’s vision.

It’s also a good idea to assign descriptors to each theme, so you know exactly what types of programs fit within it. Then, work with your team to develop strategic storytelling techniques that show the value of those programs without excluding the mission as a whole. “Rolling those programs up into larger themes can give organizations the ability to pull from multiple bodies of work and tell a consistent brand story,” Brown Marcus explained.

Problem: You often prioritize only achieving a specific fundraising target or mirroring funder interests, restricting funds and creating programs that aren’t fully aligned with your mission.

Solution: Internally clarify the story you want to tell around your mission and impact.

When you create programs driven by a specific fundraising target, it can become easy to gradually drift from the organization’s central mission and purpose. While funder interests and the ability to achieve fundraising goals can certainly be taken into consideration in the program development process, using them as the driver of program creation without attention to how that program connects and moves the organization’s overall mission forward can be a dangerous path to walk.

Instead of allowing funding opportunities to dictate program development, focus on ensuring internal strategic alignment between teams. This takes time and internal collaboration, but by approaching fundraising opportunities with a clear picture of your mission, vision, and programmatic priorities, you’ll be more equipped to secure unrestricted funding, providing opportunities for maximum impact and growth. This approach will also pave a clear path for your team to align around, avoiding the pitfalls that so often lead nonprofits to stray off course.

Storytelling is the key to making the most of your organization’s efforts and to maximize fundraising. And although it requires intentional work upfront to find the heart of your mission amid many powerful impact stories, the labor is well worth it.

“This isn’t merely about telling good stories,” Allen emphasized. “It’s about crafting narratives that resonate deeply, illustrating not just what you do, but why it matters. When we tell smarter, more compelling stories, we don’t just raise more funds—we unlock more unrestricted funds, giving us the flexibility to respond to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. This strategic approach to storytelling is in service to meaningful, long-term impact.”

Once you’ve simplified and strategized your story, you’ll be better able to connect with and draw in a wider supporter base, and your team will be well equipped to pursue and secure unrestricted funding. And with that comes myriad opportunities to grow your organization in a direction that leaves a powerful legacy in your sphere of influence.

Good Scout Group provides customized impact strategy and impact storytelling development that you can utilize at every level of your organization to maximize fundraising. To learn more about how you can secure more flexible funds within your nonprofit, reach out to our team for a consultation today.