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Better Storytelling with Storyweaving and Storylistening

donors fundraisers fundraising relationships storytelling success Oct 12, 2021

We know storytelling is an important tool for fundraisers. Here are two more to supercharge your fundraising efforts: storyweaving and storylistening. 

Research tells us: 

👉🏻 Using stories signals the brain to pay attention and to store the meaning deeply in the cerebellum. 

👉🏻 Emotions influence judgement and choice. Using emotions in stories stimulates action and decision-making.

👉🏻 Stories stimulate key hormones. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone associated with care, connection and empathy - it's even measurable when we *imagine* being close. And cortisol, which rises when stories become dramatic and causes our attention to be highly focused. 

👉🏻 Stories can create the feeling of being "there" through "transportation".  Great stories compel the listener to feel their fate is entwined with those in the story. This happens when oxytocin and cortisol mix.

You can take your stories beyond telling with storyweaving and storylistening. 

Storyweaving creates a powerful connection between the supporter and the nonprofit. Donors often express their values through giving. We can discover the donor's why behind their support and weave it with the mission, outcomes or impacts of our nonprofit. Create an opportunity for the donor to weave a strong, shared fabric with your nonprofit.

Donors may also continue to weave a story that started long ago: 

  • a family legacy ("my grandparents came from..."),
  • a place or time ("I want to help reclaim this land for..."), or
  • an epic shared experience ("No one should ever have to experience...").

Storylistening goes beyond hearing specific words. Being a good listener is an important trait, but listen for the unfolding story behind what the donor says. Certain ideas, topics or projects may rouse greater interest. There may be a change in cadence or pitch, in body language or shifts in energy.

How can fundraisers make space in a conversation? Notice and ask. "I heard you pause when you mentioned camping with your family. Did a favorite memory just come up that you might share?" 

Storylistening helps you to be open to having deeper and more vulnerable conversations with donors, prospects or volunteers. 

There is power in telling a story, but more fundraising magic can happen through storyweaving and storylistening.

first posted on my LinkedIn

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