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Allyson Kapin 7 min read

The Tipping Point: Raising Money and Generating Action

What was the tipping point the last time you donated money to charity or signed up to volunteer? For me it’s always personal stories or experiences someone shares with me, like when Stacey Monk, co-founder of Epic Change told me what inspired her to quit her corporate day job, travel to Africa, and start Epic Change after her world came crashing down when her brother died of an overdose. She never even got to call him back when he left a message for her a few days earlier.  

While some people have been moved to donate money or “take action” by powerful videos, others have been inspired by words or been touched by incredible photography. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which medium nonprofits use because each of these mediums have one thing in common – they are all used to tell very personal and compelling stories that resonate with people on a personal level which ultimately motivates them to do something and get involved.

While storytelling as an engagement tool is all the buzz these days, and many nonprofits that I talk with say
that storytelling is a priority for them, I can’t help but wonder where those compelling stories are. Are they buried so deep in websites that no one can find them instead of being front and center on the homepage? Are stories being randomly shared on Facebook Fanpages that often don’t make it into fans personal newsfeed?

The truth is many organizations aren’t telling compelling stories about their missions. And very few are asking their super volunteers to share their personal stories that are connected to their mission and promoting them. Why? Because many nonprofits are comfortable with the messaging that they have been working with for years and what they think resonates with their members or prospective members. Many nonprofits are “too busy” and frankly too scared to think about investing time and resources in experimenting and telling a different type of story – one that is much more personal. 

There is so much competition amongst nonprofits to get that $50 donation and to get that web visitor signed up. And while there are certainly some best practices nonprofits can use to streamline the donation and sign up process, at the end of the day it’s meaningless if nonprofits can’t tell their stories to begin with to find that tipping point where someone wants to support your organization.

If nonprofits are going to inspire people to ignite change in the world, they need to start fostering deeper relationships with their supporters by spending time talking to them, sharing stories, and providing a platform for people to share their stories around organization’s missions.

Before I wrote this post, I asked several people across my personal network what their tipping point was to support a nonprofit. Several responded that it was a very personal story someone had shared with them and that it home.

Is your organization sharing personal stories that hit home with your members or potential donors? Or is your organization still stuck in generic wonk land?

More Resources:

Best Practices for Year-End Fundraising

Road Trip! Fundraising, Advocacy, Community Building, Storytelling and Recruitment on the Road.

Tell More Stories to Build Your Movement



Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.