Humans are hardwired to remember and respond to stories. For millennia, stories are how people have warned each other of danger, inspired each other to be courageous, and recounted their heritage. Jesus was a master storyteller and used parables to unlock the mysteries of the Kingdom for all who followed. For this reason, stories are a powerful way to motivate people to help others. Additionally, stories create a bond between the storyteller and the listener, so churches can use stories to help strengthen the relationships they have with givers. You can weave stories throughout your connection strategies for a more significant impact.
Successful stories share a common framework. Let’s look at the anatomy of an engaging story, which you can apply to each story you tell.
Follow these steps:
Although your church may be the one leading change, your givers are the heroes of your story. When you’re telling stories, be sure to focus on the giver rather than your church as the changemaker. However, your church does have an important role to play — you serve as the guide who helps your heroes accomplish their mission.
1. Describe your heroes — consider each type and/or category of giver, what they are passionate about most, and what drives their desire to support your ministries.
Example: Divide your givers into groups based upon the funds they give towards. If you’re using MortarStone, you can easily filter givers by fund to identify how many people supported a particular need. From these funds, decide which ministry you’d like to feature. If a missionary was supported because a group of givers gave to that cause, tell that story. You don’t have to mention givers by name, but share the life change story that is being realized because of a group of givers felt led to support the ministry.
Conflict creates tension, which gives the story energy. The ministries you serve are facing a particular challenge. In storytelling, the problem is always described in concrete detail. Readers can clearly see the consequences of the problem and the struggle it creates. When you’re communicating the challenge that your ministry is facing, dig into the details to make it vivid and real.
Studies show that Millennials and Gen Z will give more often and in higher amounts to a cause they understand and feel they can help change. When developing your story, be completely transparent with the funding issues and the details of the need. You will see a higher return on your efforts if your congregation feels they have the power to help with the need.
2. What challenges does your ministry face in this story?
Example: Your children’s ministry needs a new building. Allow your givers the opportunity to provide support for every conflict this ministry is facing. Set up a giving page that allows the givers to donate towards the drywall, carpet, lighting, toys, cleaning materials, etc. Remember, if you are transparent with how the money is being spent, you will see a higher response to your ministry’s need.
The giver’s gift is the climax of the story. It’s the turning point in the plot where the heroes take action to set things right. In your stories, make it clear that your givers’ gifts are what enabled the change to happen.
3. What form will the climax take in the story?
Example:Passionately describe the outcome of your givers’ gifts. If children were able to attend summer camp because givers gave scholarships – tell that story. Interview the children, bring their testimonies to life. Givers who can see the tangible results of their gifts are more likely to continue to give to other ministries.
Once you have your heroes identified, the conflict explained, and the climax clear it’s now time to put the story into production. Work with your communications team to creatively build a presentation of the story. These stories should be shared over social media, in emails, before service, and through all communication channels. Plan to share one story a month with your congregation.
Start bringing life to your giving stories, and you’ll see an increase in funding to the ministries that God has passionately laid on your church’s heart.
Need help developing your church’s giving story? Let’s schedule a time to talk – our team of experienced generosity advisors can provide you with the tools to fully fund your ministry needs.