What’s the Word?
We hope your year is off to an amazing start with goals and plans you are excited about bringing to life. Each year the Ann Plans team identifies a word or phrase that guides our work in helping clients maximize the impact of their events. We are excited to announce the 2020 phrase: Bestselling Stories!
A signature event provides a powerful platform for telling the stories of how your organization is changing lives and impacting the community. Your event provides an opportunity to not only inform your guests, but, more importantly, invites their participation in furthering your mission.
Stories are the heart of who your organization is, and they are by far the most important ingredients in a successful fundraising event. Read on for eight ideas for leveraging your most impactful stories to inspire generosity at your next event.
Turning Your Stories into Bestsellers
Let’s make 2020 the year to turn your organization’s stories into bestsellers that deepen connections and inspire your guests to be as generous as possible. Here’s how!
1. Select with intention. Whose stories are on target with your key messages, and who do you feel can best connect with your audience? Stories are the most powerful way to illustrate the variety of services you offer and different situations that bring people to your organization.
2. Focus on what matters most. Your program provides the greatest opportunity to inspire your guests. As our colleague, Glen Fladeboe of Fladeboe Advancement says, “For every minute you spend on things like décor, food, and silent auction, spend 5 minutes crafting a compelling, mission-focused program.”
Guests at the Guthrie Gala were generous and enthusiastic participants in the direct giving moment.
3. Use a multi-media approach. Use a combination of live speakers, video, and photos to engage your audience. Make sure everyone on stage, including your emcee and CEO, has a moving story to tell, whether it’s a personal experience or the reading of a letter from a grateful client.
4. An editor is key.The biggest challenge for someone invited to tell their story can be figuring out how to share experiences that have dramatically impacted their lives in the time slot of just 3-5 minutes. Coaching is critical in helping your speakers craft their stories in a way that engages and inspires the audience.
Speakers Chad and Becky Walker appreciated guidance on key points to include as they prepared for last summer’s Celebration of Courage.
5. Collect a library.Remind program staff throughout the year to be identifying clients who might be willing to share their story so you have options when it comes time to plan your program. Stories not used in your event program can provide great content for newsletters, direct mail, and social media.
6. Be creative with the big story. While it is impossible to effectively communicate everything your organization does within the context of a single event, there are ways to highlight your organization’s leadership and impact without reading a laundry list of services. This video which premiered at the 2019 Red Heart Soiree celebrates the world-class leadership in cardiovascular research and education at the University of Minnesota.
7. Infuse your event with stories!While the stage provides the greatest opportunities for sharing stories, have fun finding creative ways to integrate stories throughout the guest experience.
Posters featuring Courage Kenny adaptive sports and recreation athletes were part of the guest entrance experience at Celebration of Courage.
Centerpieces at CommonBond Communities’ Celebration of Home Gala featured photos of residents.
At Courage Kenny’s Encourage Breakfast, each guest receives one of ten client story cards at their place setting.
8. Keep the storytelling going! Find ways to stay connected with your guests throughout the year. Send an update on someone who shared their story at the event, or highlight something that happened as a result of the event fundraising.
Here’s to a successful and happy year filled with impactful stories that will last a lifetime!