The Narrative Approach in describing Fundraising Projects

As part of any Case for Support, there are usually a number of fundraising projects.  I have found that a helpful ‘first step’ in creating engaging case statements, or proposals, is to develop snapshots of current fundraising projects.

In writing fiction, there is a technique known as the ‘story spine’ that outlines the various components and flow of a typical narrative arch.  Over the years, I developed the following ‘fundraising project story spine’ to help gather information needed to create these snapshot-style overviews.

They are designed to provide initial information to satisfy donors who are exploring a range of projects, and they also represent a solid framework for a more detailed proposal.

I have also provided this framework for those within the organization who wish to submit their fundraising projects for inclusion into future fundraising goals/campaigns I have found that the answers to these basic questions often provide enough initial information for senior management to decide whether or not the project warrants further consideration.   If so, the next step would be for you to work with your program staff to complete Norma’s Fundraising Project Checklist.

1.  The Challenge

Describe the problem or opportunity that exists/existed which created the need and/or the “gap” that this this project (program/initiative) will fill.  Include a personal story of someone currently facing this challenge.  Also, include a brief description, including facts/statistics that provide evidence that this challenge/opportunity impacts others (i.e. the ‘big picture’).

2.  The Solution:

What are you proposing as a solution? Describe the people and/or partners involved in designing the solution. Who provided the initial leadership, who were the key team members?  Include dates of project development and any statistics/proof points to support the claim that this is the best solution possible.  Include how this project fits within the overall mission of your organization.

3. The Desired Future State

What is the hoped-for outcome?  Paint a picture of the desired future state and a description of how this particular approach/design is intended to resolve the challenge or take advantage of the opportunity outlined in the first section.

Include a high-level description of the proposed steps involved in addressing the challenge (a summary of the project strategic approach/plan).    Brief timeline: include dates for launch of program – or if already underway – key dates of key improvements toward goal, project completion, etc.

4.  Evaluation/Performance Measurement

Explain how the program will be evaluated, how/when performance is measured to determine if it is ‘making (or has made) a difference’.  If this is an expansion or extension of a current program, include proof of impact so far, as well as any testimonials or stories that demonstrate ‘success in action’ from a human perspective.

5.  Your Call to Action – The Crucial Stepping Stone…

How much money and/or other resources are needed to realize the Desired Future State (this is your current fundraising goal).  What, if any, funding do you already have in place (if applicable) and who provided this.  Include what the ‘gap’ in funding is (remember that people often like to give to something that has already received support from others).  And, it’s crucial to include a Call to Action – even if it’s only the name of a person to contact for further information (excluding this step defeats the purpose of creating the whole story).


About Norma Cameron, CFRE

Norma Cameron is owner and principal of The Narrative Company, formed in 2006 to help people and organizations understand and apply the “power of story”. Prior to this, Norma had over 20 years’ experience in communications, fundraising, organizational development, performance storytelling, public speaking and training. As an engaging keynote speaker and seminar leader, she works with public, private and non-profit sector clients. As a seasoned storyteller, she has performed at conferences, concerts and festivals across Canada and the UK.
This entry was posted in Discovery Dialogue, Fundraising, Norma Cameron. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Narrative Approach in describing Fundraising Projects

  1. Nancy Cardozo says:

    Hi Norna, fantastic! As usual very informative and clear.

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