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Ernest Hemingway started a trend of six-word stories with these riveting words:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Stories told in just six words can be a powerful tool for your campaign. When you choose the right words, you can move donors with powerful, compelling soundbites.

What’s a Six-Word Story? Here, COVID Provides an Example

Today’s post was inspired by an article in this week’s NY Times, called The Pandemic in Six-Word Memoirs.

Some of my favorites from the Times article include:

Every day’s a bad hair day.

— Leigh Giza

Can’t smell the campfire on Zoom.

— Melanie Abrams

Eighth hour of YouTube. Send Help!

— Leela Chandra

Slowly turning into a technological potato.

— Jad Ammar

Cleaned Lysol container with Lysol wipe.

— Alex Wasser

And from my daughter:

Eager to go back to school.

— Zoe (age 13)

Why Just Six Words?

Every campaign needs a short story or a tagline, if you prefer. The idea is that in one, short statement, you can communicate the reason for your campaign.

Your six-word story goes at the top of a webpage, campaign brochure, video, and other campaign materials to communicate clearly, quickly, and concisely what your campaign is about.

But why so few words?

  • People are busy
  • Their time is precious
  • They can only digest so much while being bombarded with so much other information

In these Twitter / Instagram days, we’re accustomed to getting information in bite-sized bits. Today, brevity reigns supreme.

How to Create a Six-Word Story for Your Campaign

Creating a six-word story is a great opportunity to engage your board members. You can do this in person or via Zoom in three simple steps.

  1. First, ask board members to come up with a list of words which describe your campaign and your organization. Have them write their list individually and then share a few words from each list with the larger group to make one long list.
  2. Next, break them into small groups of 2-4 people. (Try using the breakout function in Zoom if you’re meeting virtually.) Give them 8 minutes to come up with as many six-word stories about your organization and about your campaign as possible.
  3. Lastly, ask them to share their favorites with the larger group. Then decide which six-word stories resonate the most.

The Six-Word Story Campaign Challenge

So I’d like to challenge you and your board members to come up with one or more six-word stories to describe your campaign.

Your six-word story should evoke emotion, and if possible, paint a picture in the mind of your donors. Why should they care about your campaign?

Six-Word Story Examples

Save a dog; she’ll rescue you.

Finding a cure for my mom.

Feed the hungry, nourish a soul.

New school buildings help students soar.

Performing arts — more than a play.

After school programs keep kids safe.

YMCA: Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul.

Scholarships provide hope for future generations.

Remember — your goal is to get to the heart of what your donors need to know in one short statement. And, if possible, tease a compelling reason to learn more.

It’s Your Turn!  Share a Six-Word Story Below

Share a six-word story about your campaign in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

21 Comments

  1. Susan Allen

    Educating Women WILL Change the World!

    Reply
    • Susan Allen

      Wesleyan College is THE FIRST college chartered to grant degrees to women. We are proud of our legacy and should we thank you for focusing us on this 6-word exercise to tell our story.

      Reply
      • Amy O'Sullivan

        I work at an all girls high school, and I LOVE your 6 word story!

        Reply
    • Zawedde

      Empower women ,girls for better health.

      Reply
      • Zawedde

        Stop CoVId 19 by practicing
        exercise

        Reply
    • Dakota Crow

      Boys & Girls Club Muskegon ClubHouse Campaign: Every Kid Deserves A Clubhouse

      Reply
  2. Tom Martin

    Here for you. Today. Tomorrow. Always

    Reply
  3. Alba Austin

    Literacy Changes Lives-Make A Difference

    Reply
  4. Katia Barsse-Blom

    Because every life is beautiful and worth fighting for

    More than six words but tells the story.

    Reply
  5. Stephen Heaven

    Off the top of my head…

    Free wet nose with every adoption

    Reply
    • Amy Eisenstein

      Yes! Love it. I know exactly what you do and what I should do!

      Reply
  6. Mary Lynch

    Helping Hugs: Meeting needs with love.

    Helping Hugs Inc. is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization of St. William Catholic Church. We are twinned with St. Joseph Catholic Church (and its 10 chapels) through the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Meeting Haitian’s needs with Christian love.
      Showing love for those in need.

      Reply
  7. Dan

    Cant Teach Kids to Paint, When Hungry

    Reply
  8. Susan Todaro

    Understanding Differences. Expanding Opportunities.

    Reply
  9. Barb Young

    Food is a basic human right.

    Reply
  10. Susan Loucks

    Aging Independently: Younger friends with cars

    Reply
  11. Janice Fonda

    “Helping the young so they can grow old.”

    Campaign for mental health facility for children and adolescents.

    Reply
  12. Kristin Liphart

    Hungry to learn during the pandemic

    Reply
  13. Staci

    To Be Demolished: Historic Movie Theatre

    Reply

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