1. Planning your storyline in advance
Start off by having a think about what's led you to be here raising money for Mind, why you’re fundraising and what might make what you’re doing difficult or a bit different. Think about things like:
- Why did you decide on the event your taking part in?
- Is this the first time you’ve taken on something like this?
- Will it be difficult?
- Is it part of an ongoing journey (i.e. have you progressed to this or are you doing multiple events in future)?
And things like:
- Do you have personal experience of a mental health problem?
- Have you supported a family member or a friend?
- What happened and how did this affect you or the people you care about?
- How did/do you feel about it?
- Has Mind ever helped you or your friends or family? If so what difference did this make?
- What aspects of Mind's work do you particularly care about?
- Even if you haven't used any of Mind’s services directly, have a look at Mind’s current campaigns. Is there a campaign that you feel particularly strongly about because of your own experience?
If you don’t feel ready to share your own experiences of mental health, or you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have permission to share your friend of family member’s experience, that’s fine – you can focus on other aspects of what you’re doing.
Think about Conflict
Conflict is a really important part of all stories. In this sense, conflict doesn’t mean fighting – it really just means that something needs to happen. The story can’t be too straighforward. If the hero of the story (that’s you!) gets from A to B too easily, it’s not much of a story.
So try to make sure, whatever the focus of your story, you tell your readers about some sort of hurdle you’ve had to or will have to overcome. It doesn’t need to be anything too significant – small things can make interesting conflicts too. And it could be an internal conflict, for example, your own fears or anxiety around taking part in your fundraising activity.
2. Building your story up
Once you have your basic angle or storyline (I decided to focus on the impact of having bipolar disorder as well as being rubbish at running!), think about whether you have any examples or anecdotes that might bring it to life. For example, I recalled a couple of memorable moments, both funny and more emotional:
- That the only comment on one of my school PE reports was “Laura is very polite” (which my parents were actually quite pleased with)
- Going out running with tears streaming down my face when I felt really depressed.
- I shared how scary it was when I first realised I might have bipolar disorder and how Mind’s information made me feel less alone.
Think about any examples or events that might help your friends and family to understand why you are doing this.
3. Writing your story
It’s best to use an informal and conversational writing style. It should be easy to read and engaging. Here are some tips for when you come to write your story:
- Write as if you were talking to someone. Imagine you're sitting with someone you want to sponsor you, telling them your story in person
- Use plain English - don't use a long word where a short one will do
- Use short sentences and short paragraphs
- Be yourself, let your personality shine through
- Be sincere - you really care about what you're doing and it's ok to let people know just how much you do
- Be concise and focused. Once you’ve finished writing, have a read back through. Cut out parts you think will be confusing or are unnecessary. Will your final draft make sense to people reading? Perhaps ask a friend to read it first before you post it online.
Finally, if you don't like writing (or even if you do!), remember there are other ways to tell your story too. Check out our guide to using video.
I hope you find these tips and ideas useful and that you enjoy fundraising for Mind as much as I did!
Laura, Senior Digital Fundraising Officer and Unlikely Royal Parks Half Marathon Finisher