I had a piece in The Guardian last week about failure and how it has been a spring board to success for the charity/non-profit I fundraise for, SolarAid. I had some great feedback. The jist being “what a great story”. You can read it here. Which got me thinking. Take any Spielberg film, or any Hollywood blockbuster, and think it through. Careful – plot spoilers ahead!
Jaws: Man eating shark appears. After numerous failures to catch said shark the three heroes set out. Boat sinks. One hero gobbled. Last ditch attempt to kill shark. Shark blown up.
Raiders : Treasure hunter seeks the lost Ark of the Covenant. Finds it only to be captured by arch enemy. Thrown in pit of snakes. Escapes. Captured again and tied to pole. Ark opened. Hero prevails over forces of evil.
Kungfu Panda : Panda appointed as guru fighter. Starts training – mocked by team mates. Fails. Loses confidence. Bad guy arrives. Panda gets belief back. Bad guy defeated.
In fact just about every popular film has a period when the hero tries – then fails – and finally through perseverance or blinding insight wins through. Between that moment of failure and success is usually a defining moment. A dawning. So many great stories use this winning formula. And this is the best bit and why its relevant to fundraisers (for why story telling is so important for fundraisers check out an earlier blog post).
Find the failures to tell a great story
Your cause was set up to overcome a social issue or provide something special (an experience or outcome) or do something that no one else has achieved. To do so will no doubt be a struggle. If it was easy to solve there wouldn’t be a need.
You need find out about the struggle – find the failures that have occurred along the way. It’s what will make your cause and hence your story so interesting. You might have to dig as failure is often packed away and hidden. The addition of failure to your story makes it more believable and authentic, more engaging and memorable. And bizarrely this is not a Hollywood blockbuster – its real.