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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!

3 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
  2. Tom Martin

    Here for you. Today. Tomorrow. Always

    Reply

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