Storytelling is one of the hottest topics in the nonprofit world right now. And for good reason: mastering the art of nonprofit storytelling is a valuable way to find new supporters and keep them involved with your organization.
There’s a lot of discussion about storytelling for nonprofits, lively debate about the best way to build and tell narratives, and endless theories about the most effective ways to use different kinds of media to capture your story. There’s a lot of information out there! In case you don’t have time to comb through all those articles, here’s a summary of what nonprofit storytelling looks like and how you can put it to work for you:
1. Who cares if you have a story?
Short answer? Everyone cares if you have a story. If you want people to contribute to your cause, showing them what your organization does is absolutely critical. And in today’s fast-paced, busy world, a quick paragraph or two containing a fancy-sounding mission statement isn’t going to cut it.
Gone are the days of bullet-pointed lists of statistics and walls of text on webpages. Supporters expect pictures of the people you help, creative videos about your projects, regular updates about what you’re doing, and real-life anecdotes from your volunteers and the people you support. You’ve got a whole arsenal of tools you can use to make your nonprofit’s story heartfelt and effective; start using things like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Facebook, and the innumerable other photo- and media-sharing programs out there.
2. Why does it matter?
Your organization’s story is the valuable asset you’ve got. It’s what sets you apart from other nonprofits and builds emotional bonds between you and your donors. Showing your supporters what you do with their money lends you an invaluable level of transparency that makes them trust you, and telling them how they’re changing the world keeps them coming back.
Building emotional ties with your people is an effective way to gain financial support, and happy donors are donors that will continue their support. Connect with donors, stay connected with donors, and give your donors confidence that they are making a different. You can do it all with your story.
3. So you’ve got a story. What do you do with it?
You could have the best story in the world, but it won’t make much of a difference if you don’t share it effectively. Websites and social media channels are, of course, the first place one goes to share a nonprofit’s story. But don’t neglect the physical world: are you sharing your story in your newsletters? In mail appeals? In thank-you letters? At events and in flyers?
There’s so much you can do with a good story! You’re really only limited by your imagination.
The importance of effective storytelling really can’t be overstated. Look for upcoming entries about how to build and tell your own stories!