Online fundraising and the power of storytelling

Telling your story

Helping your friends and family connect with what you’re doing, and understand just how much it means to you, is really important, and it's one of the most effective ways you can fundraise and meet your target.

To do this, you need to tell your story!

Laura, from our Digital Communications team, tells us how you can tell your story, to bring what you're doing to life and inspire people to donate...


A couple of years ago, I ran the Royal Parks Half marathon for Mind and I told my story on my fundraising page.

It was brilliant to get so many donations for Mind as a result of telling my story. Alongside donating, lots of people sent me lovely messages of support. Some told me about their own experiences of mental health problems, or about how these issues affected their friends and family. School friends I hadn't spoken to in many years made contact. It was incredibly touching.

I’m now working in Mind’s digital communications team and one of my passions is encouraging people to communicate by telling their stories. This is something that definitely helped me in my fundraising so I want to share some ideas with you about how you might tell your story too.

It was brilliant to get so many donations for Mind as a result of telling my story. Alongside donating, lots of people sent me lovely messages of support

Why tell a story?

One of the ways children first learn about the world around them is through storybooks and fairy tales. Our brains can process information and ideas more easily through stories. Research shows that people are more likely to be engaged and are more likely to remember something if it involves a story.

Even if you have what might seem like a really powerful fact or statistic, illustrating the same point through a story is usually more effective. So telling a story in your online fundraising page is much more likely to make an impact.

For most people, fundraising or taking on a challenge involves some sort of journey. There were probably some difficult, moving or funny moments along the way that could form part of your story and bring what you are doing to life.


Three steps to a great story

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?

And finally:

  • 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

Examples and Inspiration

Here are some examples of different fundraising pages that use a storytelling approach:

  • Lynsey who has so far raised an amazing £3,000 is taking on Mind Hike 2017. She tells her moving story of losing her Mum to suicide. “I was devastated. And more than that, I was furious. I recall holding a glass and wanting so badly to hurl it across the kitchen.”


“I was devastated. And more than that, I was furious. I recall holding a glass and wanting so badly to hurl it across the kitchen.”

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