4 Tips for Storytelling And Technology

August 9, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

Think back to when you were a kid and needed money. You probably went to your mom or dad and said, “Can I have 10 bucks?” and they probably asked, “What for?” If you were smart, you didn’t say “candy” or “toys.” You told them about how at camp next week everyone will be hanging out at the snack shack or that you and the new kid at school were learning about aerodynamics and want to compare kite designs.

The process really isn’t all that different when working with funders. You could ask for money for a new donor management system, but you probably won’t get you very far. You need a story that shows the funder how that new technology will transform your organization and make it better than ever.

Here are four tips for crafting a compelling story to fund your technology.

1. You’re not asking for tools, you’re selling your mission.
Your funder needs to buy-in on what you do before considering funding technology. You have to show, both quantitatively and qualitatively, how you’re making a difference and achieving your mission. Then your technology request builds on that groundwork. A strong tech proposal makes the case that the proposed technology will make you even better at what you do.

2. A capital campaign shows you’re serious.
Funders want to know that you’re committed to making the project work. A capital campaign shows them that you’re not just “dialing in” a funding request, but are actually putting time and sweat into making your project happen. *Caveat: Not all funders will invest in capital campaigns, so do your research before pursuing this approach.

3. Make your funder the hero of your story
Our impulse is often to make ourselves the heroes because we’re focused on our own mission and the on-the-ground work necessary to achieve it. But remember, funders have their own missions and when they make funding decisions, they want to be able to see how investing in your technology aligns with their own goals. A strong tech proposal helps the funder imagine herself as an active force for good rather than a passive writer of checks.

4. Show a Clear Return on Investment
Every funding request story must have a happy ending. Show in both concrete terms (dollars and cents) and subjectively (stories of people who will be affected) how their investment will pay off for your constituents, your organization, and the funder.