But do they really work?
1 - If you want to share knowledge, make your story reflect multiple perspectives. Focus on the challenges and how they were solved. Responses like "We never thought about that" indicate you've gotten your point across.
"Tom and Jane were excited to support our work, but didn't know much about our endowment. I didn't want to overwhelm them, so I talked about several examples of donors who selected an endowment gift for different reasons."
2 - Try to lead your prospects into the future - endowments are forever, you know. Avoid details except where absolutely necessary. Be evocative. Be positive about what will happen in the future because of the forever fund. Success is a response that says "Let's do it, or when do we start?"
"Elizabeth really got excited when we talked about her gift going on forever. She didn't need investment information, market changes or any of that stuff. She could imagine her own best future for the gift."
3 - Great stories for prospects will also help them learn about you and build trust. Often an insight into a vulnerability of yours will help them make a decision. Be sure it's true and fits in the context of why an endowment gift. Be sure you have time to be personal. Expressions like "I didn't know you had the same feelings as I do" indicate that you have made a great connection.
"When I first started working with endowments I thought I'd never be able to talk about them so that people could understand what I was saying. I was really nervous about what questions I might get. Sometimes I never brought up that options for fear of saying something wrong."
Stories are more than just examples. You need to know why you are using a story. In these three examples, the first was to share knowledge, the second to evoke a desired future - the ultimate endowment presentation, and the third to help build the trust that is essential for a gift that lasts forever.
For more nonprofit administration and management tips, as well as nonprofit funding and endowment development, subscribe to Endowment Development Institute's Newsletter here.