How to Discover New Donors Through Empathic Storytelling

discover new donors

Empathy in All and All in Empathy: Part 2  

In Part 1 of this Blog series, Empathy in All and All in Empathy: Part 1 – How to Connect to Current Donors Through Empathic Storytelling we discussed how empathy helps promote action in your audience. When someone feels a connection to another person or mission, they are more likely to give of their time, talents, and treasures. 

One of the best ways to draw out human connection, is through the telling of stories. In today’s digital age, we have never more been connected but also never more separate. While access to each other is at an all-time high, genuine connection may be more difficult. However, it is through similarities and empathy that we will be able to create our biggest impact as non-profit communicators and change makers. As non-profit professionals, it is our job to uncover these similarities to connect our communities. 

Of course, with storytelling as my specialty, we will be using the power of story to help us brainstorm ways to discover new donors and supporters based on the stories you already have or may be collecting

To get the ball rolling, start thinking of how you can share the story of someone your mission serves to others who are most likely to connect to it on a personal level. People who can relate to the people you serve are more likely to extend support to your organization, but you may have to do your homework and take the initiative to get your organization in front of them. 

The first step to this is to identify the stories you already have within your mission. Which individuals have you already highlighted or featured as beneficiaries? Now, start to consider their community connections. Chances are good that if you’ve already developed a relationship with these individuals and collected their stories, they are already quite loyal to your mission and will be pleased to know their story can extend out to help promote even more awareness. That being said, please remember to get permission of those you serve before contacting anyone who may be in relation to them. Additionally, you may even consider asking them to join you in reaching out if the situation is appropriate. 

Here are five imaginative ways to discover new donors that may engage on an emotional and empathetic level based on your non-profit stories and missions. 

  1. Find out where your story’s “character” went to school and contact that institution. Share that person’s story with them. There may be Facebook groups, websites, message boards, etc. where you can share the story. Getting your good work out to those people will automatically trigger an emotional response as ‘one of their own’ is helped by your work.
  2. Is the individual part of a religious affiliation? Where did they go to church? Again, there will likely be someone looking to help one of their fellow parishioners. Perhaps you’ll engage with a cleric they knew or become introduced to the good will of the congregation. 
  3. Where did they grow up? Can you get a piece published in the local paper there? Can you get a spot on a local news channel? Local residents of may feel likely to help if they you are able to activate the emotional empathy response to a native in need. Besides, by contacting news outlets with done-for-you powerful stories, you are saving them work, giving them great content, and gaining more exposure for your mission!
  4.  What did/do they do for work? Can you contact that firm or the industry leaders? Is there a corporate arm of the organization which might look kindly on helping you, knowing it’s their old employee you’re looking out for now? Could the company do an in-kind collection for you?
  5. What achievements do these individuals have behind them? Could these lead to other great giving organizations? Athletics team, sports or creative/artistic groups in the local area… etc. 

These five basic questions are designed to help you think outside the box for your fundraising efforts. Empathetic engagement is already built into the system with this process because the human connection is already established. This method for brainstorming and can be repeated endlessly. It’s likely those five questions will lead your enquiries down unique directions for every individual and there is no end to how often you can take on these investigations to discover new donors. 

At the end of the day, non-profits thrive on human connection and human connection thrives on non-profits.

donor love and loyalty

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. As a non-profit storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. She can be reached at

Madison Gonzalez
Madison Gonzalez

Latest posts by Madison Gonzalez (see all)

Originally Published by

Our Top Blog Posts of 2020 – Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Classy’s Top 10 Nonprofit Webinars of 2020