Who doesn't like the story of the "Little Engine That Could?" The 1930 children's book has stayed a favorite for 75 years because it teaches children that trying hard and often gets you to the top.
It's doubtful that the book would have even survived a week if it ended on a note of failure.
Most people root for the underdog, but what really moves them is when the underdog becomes the top dog.
That's the story your nonprofit should be telling.
When you are trying to raise funds, whether you're a nonprofit or a for-profit, people want to know that they are backing a winner or at least a solid competitor.
Often the difference between getting funding and going broke is your ability to prove you have a lasting impact on whatever problem you are trying to solve.
Nonprofits have a particularly good audience for success stories, because even little successes, if they are cumulative, motivate people to help.
We hear a lot about impact statements, but too many people want to prove their impact with numbers only, leaving out the emotional side.
OK, it's a good thing to be able to say you served 1000 more meals this year than last, but what difference did those meals make in someone's life?
Every nonprofit should make an effort to go beyond the numbers. Follow up with the people you fed or tutored or that you helped to finally get a job. What positive outcomes did they have beyond a meal, their first paycheck or a passing grade on a test?
Stopping with the immediate end result of a program sells your whole operation short.
Go out and contact some of the people you helped, or the homes where you placed an animal a year or more later. What happened after the initial good deed?
Sometimes the outcomes aren't as rosy as you hoped they would be, but that's part of the story.
One nonprofit that worked with rescuing female domestic abuse victims did just that. What they found was that about 30% of the abused women had gone back to school and another 35% had found steady employment, but most of the others had either gone back to their abusers or entered into another abusive relationship.
That's part of your story too. Use it to show why you still need support.
Put the stories on your website, start a blog or send out newsletters, but get the word out.
Remember, people want to give you money only because you help someone or something else. They aren't going to donate just because you need to pay the rent. Now go out there and start bragging!