Jolene Miklas, Associate Creative Director  ●  5/29/2020

Writing to Raise Funds: A Storyteller’s Tools of the Trade


Every charity needs a great storyteller. The stories you share can change hearts and minds. 

Here are a few tools of the trade to help you write stories that move donors to give.

  1. A pocket-sized digital voice recorder. Capture great stories by interviewing the people your charity serves, the staff and volunteers on the front lines, and the donors who make it all possible. Keep your recorder handy, and if your interviewee consents to being recorded, you’ll always be ready to strike up a conversation about how your charity changed their life. These conversations make a great bank of resource for your donor marketing.

    In times of social distancing, Zoom or phone interviews can be just as effective. You can record calls on speaker phone, or download an app to record it right onto your phone.
  2. A transcription service. There are lots of reasonably priced services that will turn an audio interview into a transcript. I use It’s helpful to have a complete transcript of your conversation to read over, especially so you can double-check quotes for accuracy.
  3. A great dictionary and thesaurus. I use This free site can serve as your dictionary and thesaurus, only better, because it’s designed to help creatives find the exact nuance they’re looking for.
  4. A ruthless critic. If you can, have someone read your copy aloud to you to make sure it sounds conversational. Or, you can paste your copy into Remember, experts agree that effective fundraising copy has a reading-ease level somewhere between 4th and 6th grade. Hemingway will tell you which grade level you’ve hit, and which sentences could be shorter, bolder, or easier to read.
  5. Curiosity and compassion. These traits are the best “tools” of all! A good storyteller wants to know what it really feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. Bring your curiosity and your compassion to every interview to make a connection with the person you’re talking to. Then, take your donors on an emotional journey that inspires them to give.

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