October 11th, 2023

The Power of Data Storytelling in Fundraising

Kevin Shaabi dives into the potential of data-driven stories in fundraising.

Public fundraising today is hard. With changing supporter expectations, economic uncertainty, and fierce competition over squeezed wallets, powerful stories are more important than ever to mobilise supporters. One approach that’s gaining momentum in the sector is data storytelling, which presents dense information in a simple, digestible format to deliver a focused message.

Increasingly, data and analytics are the pillars upon which informed decisions are built. But what exactly are they?

Data encompasses a treasure trove of information that organisations collect, including supporter profiles, giving history, engagement patterns, and much more. It's the raw material that feeds the innovation process.

Analytics, on the other hand, is the art of turning that data into actionable insights. Think of it as the process of distilling meaningful patterns and trends from a sea of numbers and statistics.

In essence, data and analytics provide the facts and figures that shape your fundraising strategies. They allow you to understand who your supporters are, what motivates them, and how they interact with your organisation.

What is Data Storytelling?

Data storytelling is where the magic happens. It's the fusion of data and narrative, transforming cold numbers into compelling stories. But why does this matter?

Data storytelling takes the insights derived from your data and weaves them into a narrative that engages, informs, and inspires. It's about conveying the impact of your work and the difference supporters can make in a way that resonates on a personal level.

Imagine presenting your fundraising results not as a series of charts and graphs, but as a captivating story that connects with your audience emotionally. That's the power of data storytelling.

Now that we've covered the basics, let's explore how your organisation can kickstart its journey into data storytelling for fundraising innovation:

Who’s doing it well?

We’ve picked two examples of what great data storytelling looks like to show you what’s possible.

  • The Health Foundation regularly publishes findings from their data & analytics team. Their long reads are great at telling a compelling story with well-chosen and well-presented data. Example here.

  • From outside the sector, Bloomberg Green is great at weaving simple charts into short reads to great effect. Example here.

How Can Your Organisation Start Using It?

Let's explore how your organisation can kickstart its journey into data storytelling for fundraising innovation:

Step 1: Data Collection & Analysis

Begin by gathering and analysing relevant data. This includes supporter demographics, giving history, engagement metrics, and any other information that can provide insights into supporter behaviour.

Step 2: Define Your Story

With your data in hand, identify the story you want to tell. Are you highlighting the impact of a specific campaign, showcasing supporter success stories, or illustrating the ongoing need for support? Define your narrative focus.

Step 3: Visualise Your Data

Create visuals that bring your data to life. Charts, graphs, and infographics can help convey complex information in a digestible format. Visuals should support your narrative and make the data accessible to your audience, so be sparing with them and make sure each one is tightly focused on one important message.

Step 4: Craft Your Narrative

Now, craft a compelling narrative around your data. Start with a hook that grabs your audience's attention. Then, guide them through the data, using storytelling techniques to evoke emotions and convey the significance of your cause.

Step 5: Engage Your Audience

Select the right channels to share your data story. It might be a well-designed email campaign, a video presentation, or an interactive webpage. Consider your audience and how they prefer to consume content.

Step 6: Iterate and Improve

Data storytelling is an evolving process. After sharing your story, gather feedback and analyse its impact. Did it resonate with your audience? Did it drive engagement or donations? Use these insights to refine and improve your future storytelling.

In Conclusion

Data storytelling is a powerful tool in your fundraising innovation toolkit. It bridges the gap between data and emotional connection, helping your organisation engage supporters on a deeper level. By collecting and analysing data, defining your story, visualising the data, crafting a compelling narrative, engaging your audience, and continuously improving, your organisation can harness the power of data storytelling to drive fundraising success and further your mission.