Make your fundraising offer the cliffhanger (Star Wars fundraising)
I love a good cliffhanger – don't you?
Question: are you using cliffhangers in your fundraising?
More on the why soon. But first...
(spoilers ahead... for those of you still avoiding Star Wars)
Consider the power of a good cliffhanger.
–Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back–
The film ends with Luke Skywalker learning that Darth Vader is his father. Our good guy hero is invited to join the Dark Side.
Will he? Won't he? How will this play out?!
To get answers to these questions, you have to tune in for the next "chapter" of this saga, Return of the Jedi.
Now, this scene is a cliffhanger. We're brought to a "plot cliff" – breathtaking! – terrifying! – and we're left there, hanging, waiting.
Likewise, TV episodes often end with cliffhangers.
Some cliffhangers go so far as to spell out the suspense for us by voicing our cliffhanging questions:
"Will Robin escape? Can Batman find him in time? Is this the ghastly end of our dynamic duo?"
Books, too, hang readers from cliffs – especially with chapter endings that beg you to turn just one more page.
–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone–
At the end of the third chapter of Harry's first book, we read:
Who's at the door? Why? What's gonna happen?!
In this moment, I don't know.
But I do know...
Make your fundraising OFFER the cliffhanger 🧗♀️
You may say, "I'm not writing space operas, comic books, or fantasies!"
Yet you really ought to keep your donors gently hanging...
Because that's how to keep them coming back for more.
(ahem, donor retention)
With fundraising storytelling, in which you do 3 things:
- Tell a story of need.
- Make your offer the cliffhanger.
- Save the happy ending for the final chapter.
Before we dive deeper, there's something else you should know. Fundraising stories don't really end with the appeal. Or at least, they shouldn't.
It's similar to a book series, a TV series, or a movie series.
The ending is not always the ending. It may only be the chapter ending, or the not-last in a series of books ending, or the episode ending, or the not-last season ending, or the not-last in a series of movies ending.
See what I mean?
Think of your appeal as the first of a 2-book, a 2-season, or a 2-movie series.
The first book, season, or movie sets things up and ideally has a cliffhanger ending. The second and final book, season, or movie resolves the cliffhanger tension and delivers a happy ending.
And your offer is the cliffhanger.
- First, tell a story of need.
- Second, make your offer the cliffhanger (that your supporters can resolve by making a donation).
- Third, save the happy ending (impact) for the final chapter (thank-you letter and newsletter).
And now... let's come full circle with a Star Wars fundraising example:
(kinda weird? yes! – play along? thank you!)
First, tell a story of need:
Second, make your offer the cliffhanger (that your supporters can resolve by making a donation):
Third, save the happy ending (impact) for the final chapter (thank-you letter and newsletter):
Isn't that a heartwarming tale?
While you're here...
Why not read a little more?
Here are a few more blog posts you might like:
1. Thank You for the "Mental Real Estate"
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