The importance of storytelling for your nonprofit

The foundation of our society is built on stories; it's how we assign meaning to the otherwise incomprehensible facets of life.

Creating something relatable can captivate an audience, making them want to hear what you have to say over and over again. The more ways your nonprofit provides for donors to identify with your organization, the better off you are.

In all areas of marketing strategy, from the graphic designs of a website to the selling words of an email or blog, there is potential for a story that will bolster your donations.

Implement storytelling strategies
Narrating the history of your organization is only one part of of telling a tale. You cannot just assume that donors are as excited about your journey as you are; you have to make them passionate.The Nonprofit Times highlights some tools to do this from the book "Winning the Story Wars" by Jonah Sacks. Sacks outlines key storytelling elements that will help donors see your same vision.

He suggests making your audience the heroes, providing them with the power to make a difference. Like any positive story, there needs to be a moral for your protagonists. What larger message is your organization trying to send?

Incorporate this underlying reason to make your nonprofit stand out against the others.

Focus on one story
Don't confuse or overwhelm your donors by trying to lay out a Dickens novel as part of your nonprofit's story. 

The best plan is to stick with one "plot" or "character" and use those themes across all of your communications.

That way, donors are never left wondering who exactly your nonprofit is helping. With each email, letter, or social media post, they are reminded of the story and might even feel compelled to donate!

Avoid bad storytelling
Sacks also identifies several common mistakes in marketing strategies. One suggestion he makes is to not sell the organization so broadly. A theme of insincerity springs up in nonprofits that try to please everyone.

Additionally, don't be too authoritative. While it's certainly acceptable to be an expert on the subject matter of your cause, that alone will not convince your audience to fill out a donation form. Plus, with virtually all information being a mouse-click away, donors are sure to research your facts instead of taking them at face value.

By blending strategy with storytelling, your organization's marketing plan can welcome donors to be the protagonist of a real-life adventure. Everybody wants to play the hero, and nonprofits hold the power to make that happen.

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