We watch and then we klatch.
If you give your listener a cliffhanger, she can’t stop right there—er, she can’t let go. She HAS to hear the end of the story. This sequence (i.e., build up the story, hit pause right before the finale, watch the listener clamor for it) can rile up your fans/donors to give more because the tension is driving them nuts.
Let them see the montage.
The most successful fundraisers I have attended had (in addition to great organization, timing, and proper staffing) an ask that came on the tails of a cliffhanger. The story left the audience bated, knowing the nonprofit host had started with nothing, surviving fight after fight, sacrificing, sweating, giving everything, rubbing two nickels together, to bet on itself. Don’t yadda yadda over the part where you transformed into the organization you are today.
Cliffhangers work if you show your listeners that only they can end the story.
Show your audience that here you are, in the ring, focused on the present. It’s now or never. You fought so hard to get this far but you can’t win on your own. Donors need to understand that. Their gift gives you a fighting chance. If they believe in you, they can sponsor you in this fight. Cheering for you isn’t enough. They must have your back.
If they feel how much they matter, they will deliver for you.
You don’t need to say what will happen if they ignore you now. Generic guilt doesn’t inspire generosity as much as small stories of optimism. If they know how much they matter, they won’t let you down.