A story without twists and turns is boring. If there were no obstacles, every romantic comedy, adventure film, mystery, or drama would be about ten minutes long.
Your story should have some twists, turns, and obstacles, too. I’m not talking about manufacturing drama, but giving some insight into the real challenges and difficulties of your work.
I work with an organization that helps women dealing with addiction. Some of the success stories involve women stopping and restarting treatment, or going back after a relapse.
This doesn’t mean treatment—or this organization’s services—are a failure. Relapse is actually very common in drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Did you know that up to 60% of people treated for drug addiction relapse? Did you also know that up to 70% of people treated for hypertension and asthma also relapse? Kind of puts things into perspective.
When speaking to donors, it’s tempting to want to smooth out the bumps in your storyline. After all, you want the donor to feel confident that their money is being well-spent and you don’t want them to feel like any money was wasted in false starts or mistakes. But, if you eliminate all obstacles in your story, you risk painting a false picture of your work and creating unrealistic expectations.
Talking about these obstacles gives your donor an idea of the difficulties inherent in your work, giving them greater appreciation for your commitment and the needs your organization has. And a hard-won victory is often celebrated more than an easy win.
While donors might not understand the ins and outs of your day-to-day work, they probably already understand on some level that your work is difficult. And if they don’t, you have an opportunity to educate them to help them become more sophisticated donors.