Apr 27, 2015
Of all the techniques to steward donors and engage volunteers, storytelling is the most vital. Narratives are an authentic way for an organization to build common ground with its supporters. True accounts of charitable work are emotionally moving and personalize the belief in a shared goal, said Nonprofit Hub.
On a practical note, storytelling gives concrete reasons for individuals to join a cause. A narrative tone can provide more sincerity than a simple list of talking points. Real-life tales also build trust because they demonstrate verifiable evidence of an organization reaching toward its goals. Potential donors feel safe giving to a nonprofit with success stories to tell. Volunteers feel their time will be well spent with an earnest, transparent organization. Posting meaningful narratives to your website and social media can also inspire readers to click through to your online donation page.
There's really no question that storytelling is immensely useful. If you're new to the practice, here are some guidelines for constructing a compelling narrative:
Appeal to your staff
Each one of your employees and volunteers has a solid reason for joining your cause. Ask them to tell their stories of why they do the work they do. For those who are more comfortable with conversation than writing, a video posted to social media is a great way to relay the narrative.
Purpose creates passion
Why does your charity exist? How did it begin? Future donors and volunteers want to know the tale of your nonprofit's humble beginnings, according to The Network for Good. A linear history won't do much to help you connect to an audience. You need to get to the heart of the matter: Your founder saw a need and wanted to not only fulfill it, but also share his or her altruistic vision with others.
If your organization's founder is available and still affiliated with your work, then he or she will be the best person to compose the story. The narrative can also be constructed using the chronology of marketing materials, news articles, grant applications and interviews. This is probably the most difficult story to tell effectively, so set aside some time for feedback and revision.
Listen, don't talk
Let your beneficiaries tell their experiences of receiving help from your organization, advised nonprofit consultant Todd Felton. These testimonials reach the widest audience and are suitable for newsletters, landing pages, case statements and social media. Real-life narratives breed empathy, noted Fundraising IP. They inspire your audience to become volunteers, philanthropists and advocates.