Why Their Voice Is Better Than Yours: The Art of the Testimonial

Today we welcome a special guest: Stelter’s Editorial Director, Katie Parker. Katie worked for major international consumer magazines and websites for 12 years before joining our Stelter team as the head of our content strategy and execution.

When it comes to financial decisions in your own life, whose voice do you depend on? For instance, are you more likely to go to a movie when a trusted friend gives it two enthusiastic thumbs up? Do you pick your next electronic when your coworkers say, “this is the one!”? Is your Amazon cart influenced by the star ratings?

All of these examples represent people organically sharing their experience. In each, someone other than the brand is speaking.

There’s opportunity for this in planned giving marketing: Testimonials.

The most impactful testimonial will come from someone who has benefitted from a “matured” planned gift. These are the impact stories that should be part of every communication you send. A great impact story showcases your organization’s mission at work. It’s the university student, from a family clouded with debt, who is just four months away from a college degree because of a charitable gift. A grateful patient who is readying for a 5K race thanks to the exceptional, affordable care they received from your doctors.

A great impact story shows how someone triumphed, survived or grew because of the financial help offered in their time of need.

3 Elements of Impactful Testimonials

1. Set the table: This part of the story covers what happened before the gift was in place. How was this recipient’s life different; what struggle(s) did they face?

Sample questions to ask when interviewing the recipient:

  • How did you find out about our nonprofit?
  • How were you chosen to receive the gift?
  • What would you be doing if you had not received the gift?

2. Savor the moment: Bring out the day the gift was received.

Sample questions:

  • How did you feel when you found out about the gift?
  • Have you had the opportunity thank the person who made the gift possible? What did/would you say to them?

3. Bring it home: This is the after; how their life changed. Additionally, it’s a look at how others might become associated with your organization.

Sample questions:

  • How did this gift make a difference in your life?
  • What has surprised you most about our organization?
  • What do you wish other people knew about us?

Showcased in your communications, these stories will shape others. They have the ability to incite action by connecting donors with your mission and highlighting the opportunity to create impact themselves.

We want to hear your donor stories! Share your organization’s favorite testimonials with us. 

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