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Paint A Picture To Get Results: Creating A Compelling Story

Paint A Picture To Get Results: Creating A Compelling Story

September 2, 2013
Yolanda Darville

I quickly glanced at the appeal letter before tossing it aside. More sobering statistics about starving children in a war torn country. My mind knew that I should be touched (who doesn’t want to help starving children, right?), but my heart was not moved. Chances are your heart isn’t moved either by the dozens of appeal letters that cross your desk.

Are we just calloused individuals? No, I don’t think so. The truth is that there’s rarely a statistic – no matter how sobering or appalling—that moves anyone to action.

In The Life You Can Save, author Peter Singer illustrates this. In a research study one group received information that included a statement about “food shortages in Malawi affecting three million children.” The other group received a picture of a Malawian girl named Rokia in need of food. I bet you can guess which group was moved to action.

So what’s a better way to compel donors to action in appeals? Here are a few tips:

Use powerful imagesFocus on the impact that a gift can make on one person instead of severalHelp donors see the interconnections between themselves and the cause they are being asked to supportLet donors know that there gift does make an impact. It’s not just a “drop in the bucket.”Tell compelling personal storiesUse statistics in a creative ways that paint a human story

Remember, donors are moved by stories of people that they can relate to. Let’s paint a picture that will get results.


Yolanda Darville

Yolanda brings international experience to Lighthouse Counsel where she served as the Development Director of Queen’s College, and most recently as the Executive Director for Hands For Hunger in Nassau, Bahamas. She is active with her church, Bahamas Harvest Church, and co-leads an organization focused on teaching leadership, providing mentors and promoting high self-esteem in girls of color.