Engage: Your Philanthropy ResourceGeorgia College: Georgia's Public Liberal Arts University

Crafting Your Compelling Opportunity Story

7 Steps to Ensure Your Work is Unforgettable


The Door to OpportunityOne of the primary concerns of faculty members as they become more engaged in philanthropy is that, in the midst of countless competing philanthropic opportunities, potential donors will think their work is just more noise. Donor fatigue is a real problem, but often the difference between a pitch that tires and an opportunity that inspires is all in the delivery. In order to capture donor interest, you must tell a compelling story.

1. Feature a Societal Hook

At its core, your work can inspire donors only if it connects to the people donors care about. Express the human cost of the problems your work solves and describe the desired future state in human terms.

2. Aim to the Future

It is essential to show donors that there is a gap between the present and the future, and the gap can only be filled with their help. A forward-looking perspective encourages donors to picture themselves as part of the solution.

3. Describe Specific Actions

Your work involves tasks, people, systems, challenges, and research. Donors may wish to hear about any or all of these components, so faculty members should be prepared to share—and do so in a way that builds donors’ confidence in the work at hand.

4. Build Your Credibility

Important work is happening on every university campus around the country—so what sets yours apart? Share enough of your track record—and your team’s—to convince donors that you bring something to the table that nobody else can.

5. Ensure Relevance

It can sometimes take a bit of effort for donors to recognize the importance of projects that seem obviously valuable to faculty members. Together with your development professional, determine areas of your story that aren’t personally relatable and adjust accordingly.

6. Focus on Impact

The fastest way to ensure donors’ emotional buy-in is to describe the potential outcomes in human terms. Begin by asking yourself, “Why do I care about this?” Let your passion for your work show, and donors will find your enthusiasm contagious.

7. Keep It Simple

The fewer the words, the greater the impact. Work with your development professional on strategies to keep your Opportunity Story succinct.

Ready to practice? Download the PDF checklist 7 Steps to an Unforgettable Opportunity Story and schedule some time with your development partner to work on sharing your story in a way that inspires committed support.