6 Stories to Collect this Summer for Donors

JCC Summer Camp IMG_1154By Julia Riseman

[Written with summer camps in mind, but applicable for all.]

Summer. It’s your camp’s opportunity to gather incredible stories to delight and inspire your donors. But another summer is nearly over. Have you collected photos, videos, and stories to use the rest of the year to engage your donors? If not, collect them now!

The best stories have a basic structure – beginning, middle and end – focusing on a single character who faces and overcomes some kind of conflict. For your donors, ideally their giving helped that individual succeed in the face of that conflict.

So, with that in mind, get out there and document a few stories to use the “other 10 months” to delight your donors!

To get you started, here are six story ideas to consider:

1. Profile a Jewish moment. Some pictures are more powerful than others. A single child looking straight at the camera is more powerful than a group of kids hugging and looking at the camera. So a story about a single child involved in a Jewish learning moment can be powerful. A photo of that child alone or in Shabbat whites looking over their shoulder from a huddle with friends can be the start of an interesting story. For this particular child, explain how Shabbat at camp has impacted them and/or their family. Or explain how Shabbat is honored at camp through the senses of this one child…

… and thank your donors for supporting this Jewish Camp and the impact it had on this child’s Jewish life.

2. Profile a bunk full of campers. Although a single protagonist’s story is always more powerful, a bunk full of close friends at camp can provide fantastic stories as well. What conflict did this group overcome to become close friends? What was it like to move in at the start of the session? What does a typical day in the bunk feel like? How is it the same as it was a generation ago? Show pictures of life in the bunk and how connected the campers have become…

… and thank your donors for supporting the capital campaign that built or renovated the bunks to make these magical friendships possible.

3. Profile a blip in the summer. It happens every summer – something goes wrong. The kosher meat freezer breaks down requiring a meat eating festival one night, or the art shack gets overrun by ladybugs. Pick one to document, showing how difficult it was, how great the staff worked as a team to overcome problems, and how creativity builds memories. Always include photos…

… and thank your donors for giving to the annual fund that helps with unanticipated needs each summer.

4. Profile a camper on scholarship. What obstacle did they overcome? How did a camp scholarship help this child? What specifically made the summer awesome for this particular child? Was it learning to swim, overcoming a fear of the climbing wall? [Worried about anonymity? Take the story and change the name. Use general pictures. It’s not as powerful, but still a great share for donors.] Remember to include photos…

… and thank your donors for supporting the scholarship campaign that allowed this child to experience the magic of camp.

5. Profile the Camp Director. Chronicle a day in the life of the Director. Show how each small action and decision helps to support every child to have safe and fun summer experiences, and how young adult staff are mentored and supported to grow new leadership skills. Include quotes…

… and thank your donors for supporting staff development.

6. Profile a meal. Take really nice pictures of healthy food at camp. Tell me a story of a picky eater learning to like new kinds of food, and feeling really good about it. Or profile a favorite meal at camp that has been served for years that current campers and alumni will both remember fondly. For some reason, people of all ages on social media look at pictures of food longer than other images – so capture some images of camp food…

… and thank your donors for supporting the capital campaign that made the new dining hall possible. Or for supporting the annual fund that helps subsidize the true cost of camp.

Has your camp shared any great stories from camp this summer? Let your peers know about them!

Julia Riseman is a JCamp 180 Mentor.

cross-posted on the JCamp180.org Knowledge Center