Nonprofit storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool to motivate donors, volunteers, and community stakeholders to take action! By providing real, tangible examples of how your organization directly impacts the lives of others, people are more likely to form genuine connections with your cause and be more willing to help.
Supporters like to see how their contributions can and will make a change for the better. However, addressing complex issues can often be overwhelming for prospective donors given the perceived scale of the challenge.
Nonprofit storytelling can help bring your mission and purpose to life, turning audacious goals into deep emotional connections and lifetime supporters. As a purpose-driven organization, your stories are all around you. They’re the reason you exist. They’re the people and communities you serve every day. The key is capturing and communicating those stories in your content, images, and social media posts.
It’s what fuels the mission, vision, and services of nonprofit organizations. Purpose is also what fuels nonprofit storytelling, providing the perfect lens through which to frame your marketing message.
Why does your nonprofit exist? Who do you serve and why? What makes your nonprofit unique from others dedicated to serving a similar population? Don’t just talk about it, use stories to show how your nonprofit impacts the lives of others. Give prospective donors and volunteers a reason to believe.
Distill your purpose down into a few key themes and then make sure each story aligns with those themes. The connections don’t always have to be obvious, but the underlying message will help you create a cohesive and compelling narrative.
This is where you can draw a straight line between your organization’s purpose and how it actually helps those you serve—tangible examples that bring your services to life.
For many nonprofit organizations, this can start with statistics. Concrete, measurable, and usually easy to understand such as meals served or scholarships granted. But numbers are only part of the story.
Reach out to the people you serve and give them a chance to tell their own stories. Their firsthand accounts can convey impact on a personal and emotional level in ways that just aren’t possible through traditional mediums.
Personal impact stories can come in the form of testimonials, photos, videos, podcasts, and more. How and what you share depends on your unique target audiences, their preferences, and the best methods for communicating each story.
It’s called storytelling for a reason. If you’re overly formal, you might lose your audience. If you’re too relaxed, people might not take you seriously. With that being said, unless you are writing a dissertation or grant proposal, it’s generally okay to be conversational with your tone.
Picture yourself having a face-to-face conversation about your nonprofit with someone you’re meeting for the very first time. What would you say? How would you say it? How would your passion come through in your words and facial expressions? Now think about how you would convey that same level of emotion on a webpage.
Of course, having a conversational tone might not work for every nonprofit and that’s okay. Take the time to think about your desired voice.
Ultimately nonprofit storytelling should motivate people to take action. Whether it be to make a donation, volunteer, serve on the board, or help recruit others, nonprofit storytelling can tie your purpose back to a desired action.
Take for example a donation page. Many nonprofits mistakenly rely on boilerplate web forms and generic content on the one page where donors are most likely to convert. Instead, they can incorporate testimonials, photos, and stories and reinforce exactly how a donation is going to help those being served. Don’t assume people will automatically know the value their donation will bring or how their donation might differ from one nonprofit to the next. Use storytelling to show them and help form an emotional connection.
Actionable doesn’t mean every story, Instagram post, or brochure needs to solicit a donation or volunteer signup. More than anything, nonprofit storytelling should motivate current and prospective supporters to take action.
What’s Your Nonprofit Story?
How is your nonprofit using storytelling to create conversations and connections with your stakeholders?