Connecting a Donor to the Value of a Changed Life
We recently shared an ARTICLE discussing user-centered marketing as the first of three topics discussed in a recent episode of The Ministry Growth Show. The second topic in this blog series focuses on the importance of connecting a donor to the value of a changed life. This was a topic of discussion in a recent podcast EPISODE where we talked with David Sudarma from Cru and Christy Johnson from AIA. You can read the first article in the series HERE, but let’s get into the second topic in this series.
Let’s start by sharing an idea David shared during the podcast conversation. He said, “Oftentimes I see a posture from organizations that they want to tell the donor about all the awesome things they are doing, and they want to tell you why they are awesome, and maybe they want to tell you why they think you should think they are awesome, and here’s why you should give to this awesome work we are doing.” It’s a posture and way of communicating that we see in the ministry space often. As David said, “It’s not to be dismissive or disrespectful of ministries that are communicating in this way, but this way of communicating is certainly not considering how the donor can connect to the story… I think making the connections to the story is really, really important.”
Now, we’re biased as an agency that exists to help organizations tell God’s story as often as possible, but we would absolutely agree with David’s comments. We believe stories are the most powerful way of connecting a donor to a changed life. In a couple of weeks we’ll launch an episode on storytelling and further share how that can be done within the stories themselves, but until then let’s talk story from a 30,000-foot view.
“Stories are how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, and stories are how Jesus chose to primarily communicate in his ministry.”
I’m not sure why stories are so powerful. I’m not a psychologist, and although I’ve done a little research on storytelling, I’m not really sure why humans connect to stories better than data or statistics. I’m sure there’s a Google search there that would provide some of those answers. I do, however, believe wholeheartedly that stories are the single most powerful way of inspiring action, mobilizing the Church to a cause, and connecting a donor to, as David says, “a changed life.” And here’s why I don’t need to do research to know why stories are the single most powerful tool we have to drive a ministry forward… Stories are how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, and stories are how Jesus chose to primarily communicate in his ministry. Scripture is a collection of stories. The God of the universe chose to speak to us and reveal Himself primarily through the Bible, which is a collection of stories. Simply put, if it’s good enough for the God of the universe, it’s probably good enough for our ministries and we should take note. In fact, what does the Bible say is the most powerful way of sharing the gospel? Our testimonies, right? What are our testimonies, but our own personal stories?
“Your ministry is a storytelling and media firm, that just so happens to do what you do… and it doesn’t matter what that thing is.”
Now, I realize that things are obviously much more complicated than that, but I think it’s not always as complicated as we as ministry leaders want to make it. To this day, I have not found a church ministry or para-church ministry that has communicated and shared their stories too much. If you get nothing else from us at Reliant Creative, please hear and follow this statement: Your ministry is a storytelling and media firm, that just so happens to do what you do… and it doesn’t matter what that thing is. If you can start thinking about your communication with donors in light of that statement, it will transform your organization. It doesn’t matter if you are primarily making disciples, working towards a world where everyone has clean water, fighting to end slavery, or fighting poverty through education, Microfinance, or providing homes for the homeless, your ministry needs to view itself as a storytelling firm that just so happens to do those things.
Bringing things back to the discussion in our last article where we discussed user-centered marketing, sometimes the greatest value you can provide someone is connecting a donor to the value of a changed life through a story. As ministry leaders, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a donor. View your ministry as if you were a donor. I know for myself, if you can show me that my investment in your organization literally changed a single life and made a disciple for the Kingdom of God, that story will bring me to tears every. single. time. The value in that is so much greater than any piece of content marketing you can provide me as a donor (that’s not a bash on content marketing, and I believe there’s a significant place for it in ministry), and it definitely brings me more value than talking about your ministry from a statistical or strategic point of view. That shift in mindset places me as the donor in the position as the hero in the story, rather than the ministry as the hero. Tell your stories often, and tell them well. You’ll provide your donor with more value than you know and they’ll likely want to be a part of what you’re doing in a greater way.