You’d be surprised how many places your nonprofit can find a new story to tell. Or how many older stories you can rediscover and tell again in a more powerful way.
In fact, most nonprofits have more stories than they realize at their fingertips. They just don’t know where to look or what to look for!
These stories can come from people within your organization, directly from the people you serve or those who support you. And you can find plenty of them in your existing communications.
So, here’s what you need to know.
Look for meaningful measurements.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to work from back to front. And that’s exactly what you need to do when looking for new stories to tell. It’s all about identifying stories that are backed by meaningful measurements.
So, start by determining the most relevant statistics and outcomes with a strong connection to your core message. The goal here is to illustrate something intangible with something people within and outside your organization can understand and relate to.
The key is identifying one key statistic that backs up why your work is so important. Then use it as evidence to support that what you do works in your stories!
Does the messaging align?
But every story is different. And while they are all important, they may not all relate to the core message you’re trying to get across.
So, you’ll want to filter the stories you collect by connecting them back to the core of your mission. You may even assign stories a number value to document how well each story reflects that message. This can help you stay organized and make it easier to identify the best new story to tell!
Ask yourself the following as you sift through your stories:
- Does this fulfill our focus?
- Does it demonstrate our strength?
- Does it support and prove our impact?
Then, use your core message’s framework and measurements as a reference to help shape your narrative.
But a story of thousands is faceless. Remember, humans connect with other humans, not just numbers. The most powerful stories will focus on one person’s perspective. And it will be told from their point of view.
So, go beyond stories that focus on your organization’s impact in terms of everyone served. The point of telling a story that appeals to someone’s emotions and rationale is to connect with your audience while reinforcing your purpose.
READ MORE: How you can tell a more donor-centric story.
Invite others to share stories.
Are you feeling stuck? Don’t worry; there’s always a new story to tell. But you need to create opportunities for people to share them with you!
Everyone you serve has a different story. And the way they want to share their experience will be different. This is especially true if your organization’s work is sensitive in nature, like those that work with mental health, domestic violence, or prison reform.
But you won’t hear these stories or be able to share them with your audience if you don’t provide opportunities for people to tell them. So, consider using surveys, anonymous web portals, video testimonies, open forums, or in the field interviews to collect stories from your constituents.
And as always, follow up! The stories you share may still be evolving. And transformational stories can have a huge impact on your audience. They illustrate how your donors are helping change lives through your organization.
Where else to find a story.
Not every story needs to start from scratch! And while it’s great to proactively gather new stories, your existing communications may be full of stories ready to be repurposed, repackaged, or updated!
For example, you can reuse a story from your last year-end appeal in a new donor welcome kit. You will update the story for your next major appeal and your new donors will be unfamiliar with last year’s narrative! So don’t let a good story go to waste!
Similarly, you can also pick up an old newsletter for inspiration. Did each of the stories you told come to a resolution? Or is it time to share the next chapter? Going through past blogs, eNewsletters, and annual reports can inspire you to share older stories in new ways.
You may realize you have a ton of new stories to tell once you get started!
The ability to tell a compelling story is a critical skill for any fundraising professional. As they say, stories can open a window to another world. And they’re one of the most effective ways to help people understand your nonprofit’s work and mission.
But there’s always a new story to tell. And there’s a lot that goes into being an effective storyteller. So, you can’t tell a boring story and expect to make an impression!