Our son Baye was once a beneficiary – at age 7, when he lived in an orphanage run by an American nonprofit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He has many stories to tell.
But turning beneficiary stories into moving fundraising stories of need for an appeal letter is more challenging than it might at first seem.
So we're going to share with you our 3-step process for fundraising storytelling that stirs hearts to action.
Broadly, the 3 steps are:
- Fundraising Story of Need
Click here to view a 49-second video interview that captures one of Baye's stories from his time as a beneficiary circa 2006:
And here's the transcript of the above interview (done by hand; but you might also consider trying a platform such as Rev), which we'll need to write our fundraising story:
Brett: "Baye, when you played soccer at the orphanage, what kind of ball was it?"
Baye: "So, it wasn't really a typical ball. It was one of those milk cartons. But it wasn't hard. It was one of those – it was, like, a milk bag that... once we finished drinking the milk, what we would do is we would take our spare socks or even just our regular socks and we would stuff it in that little carton-bag-thing; we would tie it up; hey, there you got it – it's a soccer ball.
"It's so bad! Like, it's the worst soccer ball ever, all right. It would have been nice, I guess if, uh... even, like, the cheap, Walmart soccer ball, size 4 or whatever, like, made for little kids – like, that would have been even – amazing – would have been a blessing.
"I would be pretty happy. I mean, I'd be like, 'Whoa, this is a big deal, guys. America knows me! And they gave us a soccer ball. This is great. Like, because we would be out there playing soccer every single day."
From all this, we need 5 things:
- A quote or two
- A cliffhanger
- An offer based on all of the above
Pretend this interview happened when Baye was a kid.
And pretend we're writing an appeal using this story.
And see if you can spot all 5 of the above elements in the following polished fundraising story of need (plus offer)...
“We take our socks and stuff them in an empty milk bag,” says Baye, age eight. “It’s a soccer ball!”
That’s life in the orphanage in Addis Ababa – where soccer is very important to kids like Baye. It’s how they take their mind off of things.
During school hours in the one classroom, Baye works hard. When his mind wanders, it’s only to daydream of happier times.
Of sunny days with his mom and brothers in their one-room mud home in the hills on the city’s outskirts.
But all that is behind him now.
In the afternoons, Baye plays soccer in the courtyard – and waits for good news from some other country, far, far away...
Waits for a family to look through all the photos and pick his face out of hundreds of others...
Waits to be adopted...
(It's a very lonely feeling.)
Little Baye will miss Ethiopia. It’s a stunningly beautiful country. The Cradle of Humanity. The birthplace of the coffee bean. A storied land with a rich history and a hard-working, big-hearted people.
But Baye was born into poverty. The kind of poverty that devastates a family. The kind of poverty that sends kids to orphanages.
Still, he has not given up hope. He refuses to do that. Because Baye knows generous people like you are out there, ready and willing to help.
Asked how he'd react if the orphanage received a real soccer ball instead of a milk bag stuffed with socks, Baye beamed, imagining how good that would feel.
“Whoa!” he cried. “America knows me! They gave us a soccer ball!”
That's a very good feeling – the opposite of lonely.
Will you please show Baye and other children like him that you know and care about them by giving today? Your generosity can buy soccer balls and other important gifts and necessities for the kids. You can help them to be happy, healthy, and full of hope!
Sounds good, right?
Why not try it out and see for yourself?
Limit yourself to just enough context, powerful details, one or two strong, emotionally driven quotes, and a cliffhanger that leads right into your offer.
Then watch your fundraising story come to life!
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