By and large, fundraising equates to great storytelling. Stories are how human beings learn and make connections, and studies show information shared through storytelling is better absorbed and evokes more empathy. All too often however, nonprofits make the mistake of confusing fundraising with marketing.

Great marketing strategies capture the attention of your target audience; they build people’s confidence in your organization and its services, and increase business. But fundraising should engage donors in their own story of giving and each message your donors receive from you should tell a story of impact—impact they helped create.

Use a story to connect your donors with one challenge in a way that makes both the problem and the solution easy to understand. Emphasize in your appeals how much you need their help and how their generosity will make an impact on the issue. Think: With a $50 donation, YOU can provide eyeglasses to a patient who can’t afford them.

Your thank-you letters are another opportunity to engage donors in their own story of giving so avoid patting yourself on the back and give your donors the credit.  Thank-you letters are a great time to bring them back around to the issue that triggered their gift in the first place. Recall the issue that you highlighted in your appeal letter, highlight the difference their gift made, and them for a job well done. For example, if your appeal letter asked for help feeding puppies, let them know how many puppies were fed last quarter and thank them for buying the food!

By taking a step back and making your donor the hero of the story, you’re bringing them closer to the impact and getting out of the way. Asking your donors to join your impact story is a lot less powerful than inviting them to be the hero of their own.