The How (and Why) to Collect Donor Stories

February 9, 2021

Originally published on August 19th, 2019. Updated for February 9th, 2021.

If you’re a nonprofit, you should know how to collect donor stories. No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to share your story with your audience. For nonprofits, this is crucial to the growth and development of your organization, as storytelling helps inspire fundraising efforts.

How (and Why) to Collect Donor Stories

All nonprofits have a story behind why they started. Stories that come from staff, clients and the community are helpful building tools. Your mission is a great thing to put out there and inspire people, but you can set your organization apart with donor stories. These stories can gain your organization the extra attention needed to achieve your goals. Follow the steps below to see how to collect donor stories and read the explanations to know why stories will help.

Tell donors why it’s important

When you reach out to donors about their stories, you need to be clear. You need to make sure donors know why stories are important and how the stories are crucial as part of your fundraising work. Instead of sending out a mass email to donors, make it personal. Tell them why their individual story is important. You will get more responses that way.

Ask directly

Don’t dance around it. Be upfront when asking for a story and talk to people in-person if possible. You need to take the initiative if you want people to share their stories with you. If an in-person meeting is not possible, you can schedule a phone call instead. Make sure to prepare ahead of time and to let them know what to expect. Tell them to have between 30 and 60 minutes set aside for your meeting. Prepare yourself with questions to ask.

Collect more information than you think you need

With donor stories, more information is always better. There may be a bunch of information that you won’t be able to use but to collect a good donor story record everything anyway. You want to make sure to get all the information the first time, instead of ending up with too little to tell an impactful story. If you aim for too much, you will be able to pick what you use.

Leave your questions open-ended

The best way to get more from your donor stories is by asking open-ended questions. This will encourage them to expand upon their answers. It will help you get to the heart of the story and give the donor a chance to open up.


Donor stories add credibility to your nonprofit. They show the impact of your work and the heart of your donors. They also raise your reputation, build trust, and give others inspiration to help your cause. Stories make your nonprofit genuine. Post the stories to social media and your website to spread the word about your nonprofit.

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