Fundraising is a critical component in the overall success of your theatre. Without it, you’ll miss opportunities to better your productions through tech upgrades; better set, costume, and sound design; and general creature comforts that elevate the experience for you and your patrons. In your fundraising efforts, it’s a smart idea to use compelling storytelling to get your point across. We offer a few suggestions on how to nail the pitch. 

Why a Story is Important

When you’re asking patrons to donate to your cause, making personal connections and putting a face on your organization will go a long way in stretching those dollars. Using a narrative voice eschews the idea that you’re directly asking for money – instead, you’re creating incentives, inspiring confidence, and making people want to donate.

Storytelling should do more than entertain your audience – a great narrative inserts your patrons into the story and inspires them to get involved. 

Tips About Telling Your Story

Be Authentic & Emotionally Connect

Strip your fundraising request of meaningless marketing buzzwords or dry data. Instead, speak to your patrons like friends, or at the least, like human beings who share a passion for the performing arts.

Over-dramatizing your story, going off on tangents, or making up details won’t help your cause; keep it authentic. Your patrons are smart – connecting with them on a human level will yield the greatest results. 

Lastly, don’t pander. The last thing a potential donor wants is to feel talked down to during a fundraising pitch, or that you’re using guilt as a tactic to pad your bottom line. Instead, share the stories of people you’ve impacted directly. Excessive details or a sense of vagueness both can spell disaster for a pitch.

Keep it Brief and Specific

Even the most compelling pitches will get tiresome if they’re too long. You can keep your storytelling concise while still packing an emotional punch. 

Get a focus group together before you present to any potential donors, and practice, practice, practice. Get advice on what to cut out, what to lengthen, and what, exactly, you need to improve upon. Consider your storytelling journey like an elongated elevator pitch – get the narrative down to an art form. 

Additionally, donors will love to know just where, exactly, their money’s going. During your pitch, mention specific places where you need a financial boost. Help them to imagine their direct impact on your theatre. 

Think About What Your Donors Want

As you’re creating your story, remember that knowing your audience is critical to keeping their attention and piquing their interest. Write your appeal so it appeals to your audience; whether that’s a community partner, major business conglomerate in your area, or an individual with deep pockets. 

Depending on the target, ask yourself what that donor cares most about. Then, craft your story to make said donor want to read it. Your storytelling should be laser-focused on your donors’ priorities, aligning them well to your own.

In your story, present your issue and present a hero – your potential donor. Making them feel special and necessary will ensure you cinch the deal.

Enact Visual Storytelling

Keeping people engaged is much easier if you utilize visual storytelling alongside a compelling narrative. Use visuals to direct your donors’ eyes to the most important parts of your story. 

Consider adding production stills; a well-cut video of previous show clips; previews of new shows; or even shots from team-building events, fundraisers, or volunteer activities. Presenting your theatre as an entity that’s tight-knit and concerned with community efforts will go a long way.

Use buzzwords 

Buzzwords are powerful tools to use in your fundraising campaigns because they grab the attention of your audience and help inspire them to take action. A buzzword is a word or phrase that’s trendy, popular, and has an emotional impact on people. When used in your narrative, buzzwords can help persuade donors to contribute to your organization and make them feel more connected to your campaign.

Here are some helpful buzzwords for theatre fundraising, and some examples of how to use them:

  • Inspire: Help us inspire the next generation of theatre lovers and creators.
  • Collaborate: Let’s collaborate to create something truly groundbreaking and unforgettable.
  • Visionary: With your support, we can continue to be at the forefront of visionary and innovative theatre.
  • Foundation: Your donation is the foundation upon which we build our community and create impactful theatre experiences.
  • Community: Together, we can create a supportive and inclusive community that celebrates the power of theatre.
  • Support: Your generous support is critical in helping us achieve our mission and make a meaningful impact.
  • Impactful: With your help, we can make an impactful difference in the lives of aspiring theatre artists and audiences.
  • Passionate: Join us and support our passionate commitment to creating theatre that moves, inspires, and transforms.

Get Testimonials 

The best advertisement for your theatre? The actual patrons whose lives have been changed by your work. Get them involved in your fundraising!

Work ahead of time and collect patron/attendee stories, and share them in real-time on your social media feed or during a fundraising pitch. It’s important to show your potential donors why they should care about your story and cause, and how it has positively affected others. 

Introducing the OTS Fundraising Suite

If you’re looking for an all-in-one fundraising solution for your theatre, look no further than On The Stage. With the OTS Fundraising Suite, take control of your theatre’s financial destiny. With it, you can:

Increase self-funding with fundraising tools tailored to the performing arts.

Increase funding for your organization through a fundraising site with ready-to-use templates that incorporate best practices or fully-customizable campaigns.

Track one-time and recurring donations with donor management, goal tracking, and real-time reporting.

Foster a sense of community and partnership by giving your cast and crew, patrons, and sponsors additional ways to engage with your program.

Set goals and track progress with easily accessible dashboards and reports.

With a fundraising suite that does it all, the only limit is your imagination. If you’re ready to elevate your theatre experience, book a personalized demo with On The Stage today. 


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