Another study has confirmed Russell James’s finding that people are more motivated to make legacy gifts by stories that feature living donors. The online survey completed by 2,518 US adults, found that those who had read stories about living – as opposed to deceased – legators expressed an even greater interest in leaving a legacy. The participants all reported significantly greater interest in making a bequest gift than making a donation within the next three months after they read vignettes of donors’ life stories and their planned charitable bequests.
James and his collaborator, Claire Routley of the UK, conclude: "For the fundraiser, the most practical consequence of this study is that (a) sharing stories appears to increase bequest intentions and (b) concentrating on living donor stories appears more effective….However, in order to tell these stories and to tell multiple stories over time and across channels, fundraisers would need to introduce mechanisms for collecting, storing, and managing donor stories."
The Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University refers to these mechanisms, and the people who run them, as a culture of storytelling. Take this quiz, based on CSIC’s definition of storytelling culture, to help you assess where you stand now on the road to becoming a powerful conduit for your donors’ stories.
Texas Tech researcher Russell James and John Trybus of the Center for Social Impact Communication will both be speaking at the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning in October. Click here to register for the conference. To learn more about telling donor stories, read "Storytelling for Gift Planning Success," a 2012 NCPP paper by Sara Montgomery and Dan Harris.