Powerful storytelling makes an emotional connection and keeps your current supporters engaged and your prospective supporters wanting to learn more. Use these tips so you won't miss an opportunity to share all the good work your nonprofit is doing.
1. Tell it in pictures.
If a picture paints a thousand words, why do yours look so bad? Consider the quality and content of your photos. Look at them without any supporting captions or articles. What are they saying about your organization? What story do they tell? If the story is "people lined up against a wall in bad lighting," you might want to invest in some better photos. Make sure your photography reflects the action, emotion and excitement of what you do. OASIS, an organization that provides volunteer, health and educational opportunities for adults over 50, found that using more photography of older adults engaged in active programs helped communicate the exciting opportunities they provide.
2. Tell it in video.
Consider investing in a flip camera and taking short videos to use on Facebook, YouTube and your website. This is a great way to create a personal connection to your organization. Rough, home-grown video is perfectly acceptable, and in fact expected, in social media and can make donors feel more connected to your mission. Stray Rescue of St. Louis regularly takes videos of dog rescues and post them to their Facebook page. The videos give supporters a peek into what Stray Rescue does every day and makes them feel part of the action. Every video ends with a call to action, either to foster a dog or make a donation.
3. Tell it in writing.
Create a bank of short stories that you can use in your website, annual report, newsletters and social media. Staff, volunteers and board can also contribute and share stories. Stories can be about those you serve as well as those who support you. They don't have to be more than a paragraph or two. Once you start building the bank, you can use the stories wherever needed. Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition tells stories on their website. The main page features the most recent story, and another page holds the rest. They use stock photos and fake names, but the stories are true. These brief stories share their mission better than any explanation of programs or services could.
4. Tell it verbally.
That bank of stories that you wrote in step 3 can also be shared verbally. Arm your volunteers, board members and committee members with stories they can share with their family and friends. Start staff, board and committee meetings with stories…and encourage those in attendance to share their stories as well. Creating this culture of storytelling will make it much easier to add new stories to your bank. The Crown Center for Senior Living invites a staff member or resident to each meeting to talk about life at Crown Center.
5. Have others tell it for you.
Make it easy for others to tell your story while sharing their own story. Encourage those you serve, your volunteers and board members to share their love of your organization. Social media is a great way to share stories and build your online support community. Ready Readers asks volunteers share stories about reading to kids to recruit volunteers. The messages are much more powerful when coming from volunteers themselves rather than the organization.