Do you struggle with finding the right stories to tell about your nonprofit’s impact?
Do you use digital tools like email and social media to raise awareness for your nonprofit, but can’t seem to get enough engagement or traction?
Do you struggle with getting buy-in from your boss and your board to invest in these efforts in the first place?
Whether you are a storytelling novice or a seasoned professional just looking for some new ideas, I have some ideas for you.
While the exact methods and step-by-step system that I teach are inside my new nonprofit storytelling course, I do have a few tips for getting your organization on board with storytelling.
1) Create a compelling vision for storytelling.
There is no doubt that the most effective way to grow support and to keep donors engaged is by crafting authentic, real, emotional stories about the work that you do every day.
Sharing gripping stories using social media is a powerful way to showcase the results of your work.
The questions that you need to answer for your boss:
- With all the digital tools available, how can you, as a busy nonprofit professional, choose where to place your focus?
- How do you identify, collect, and craft these wonderful stories that will compel people to take action?
- How can you mold these stories for each digital and social media platform?
- What are the steps you can take to develop a plan for your storytelling campaign, to ensure that you won’t just be spinning your wheels?
Storytelling works as a strategy to get people excited and passionate about causes.
With the popularity and proliferation of digital and social media tools, there is much potential to be harnessed to energize supporters and get your message shared far and wide.
Sharing stories using social media, and other digital tools like your nonprofit website, blog, and email newsletter, is absolutely imperative to cut through the online clutter and compel your supporters to take action on your behalf.
Social media, combined with great websites, blogs, and email tactics, are being used successfully to raise awareness and funds.
Your boss may also be struggling with this common question — How can storytelling and social media be connected in a strategic way to help nonprofits better achieve their fundraising and marketing goals?
They may also be concerned with how you, as a busy staff member or volunteer at a resource-stretched organization, can manage it all without getting overwhelmed.
2) Give specifics where you can.
When you say “I need everyone to give me a story for the next email newsletter” no one knows what you mean.
In fact, they may think you want something above and beyond what you actually need!
If you need 300 words and a photo, tell them that.
You know what you mean — but how can you make your ask more specific, and less intimidating?
3) Collect and share examples of nonprofit storytelling that you like.
When you say “we need to do storytelling” you may have a clear vision and example in mind.
The problem is, the person you are talking to may be hearing something very different.
Sharing examples helps get everyone on the same page, and will spur some ideas!
I have a Google Drive filled with examples — www.bit.ly/NPCovid
I also collect examples in Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pinning4good/nonprofit-storytelling/
4) Don’t give up.
Changing a culture takes time.
Keep telling stories at each meeting and (virtual) gathering.
Lead by example. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Show you where to find and how to collect the best stories about your nonprofit’s work and impact.
Describe the ways to tell an effective story, developing a narrative arc and hook, and how to focus on people versus programs in your stories.
Address the unique and very real challenges that nonprofits face when sharing stories about their work online, including confidentiality obstacles and reluctance on the behalf of staff and volunteers.
Give you tips on creating a culture of storytelling at your nonprofit, even if you have never told stories or used social media before.
Walk you through the steps required to identify, recruit, cultivate, and motivate your very own army of storytellers to spread the word about your cause.
Give you storytelling strategies that will turn you supporters from passive readers into passionate advocates.
Provide you with the nuts and bolts of creating a plan for a digital storytelling campaign.
Show you how to integrate storytelling into your nonprofit website.
Give you the basics of blogging for your nonprofit, as well as a brief description of the major blogging platforms.
Cover the best practices in nonprofit email marketing, how to build a powerful email list, and how to integrate email marketing efforts with your website and social media channels.
Explain the basic principles of using social media to tell your nonprofit story and how to best incorporate visuals in your social media storytelling.
Provide tips on using video to tell your stories, including leveraging the popularity and unique perspective of live streaming platforms.
Help you turn “social media” skeptics at your organization into social media cheerleaders.
Include examples from nonprofits that are getting storytelling right on social media channels.
Show you some easy ways to measure the success of your storytelling campaign
Tell you how to extend the life of your stories and build on the momentum you have created.
You can do this! If you want a blueprint and step-by-step process, check out my new program, Storytelling That Sticks.