Rock Paper Scissors has enjoyed working with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG) for quite some time to help develop the nonprofit’s brand, annual Giving Reports, and providing support for the annual Good2Give Gala. Each summer, we join forces with the CFNEG and marketing consultant Heather Loveridge to share helpful marketing tips for nonprofit leaders. This summer, our focus was Storytelling for Nonprofits.
Over the course of a few hours, we started with a discussion on why storytelling is important for a nonprofit’s brand, then shifted to where nonprofits can find their stories, how they can tell their stories, and then wrapped up with the importance of knowing your audience, and started the process of creating audience personas. We also discussed the elements that make a compelling story, creative ways to tell stories, and some storytelling guidelines.
If you’re a nonprofit leader in need of a little help with your storytelling efforts, we invite you to take a look at some of the highlights of the presentation below. We’ve included the presentation slides as well.
WHY you need stories:
- Storytelling is a part of the human experience. When it comes to your nonprofit, stories are some of your greatest tools for informing people about your brand – who you are, how you got here, where you plan to go, and your mission, vision, values, and more.
- Being a good storyteller is a part of building your brand. As you build your brand, think about the stories you are and will tell about yourself and your organization.
- You need stories because they help you connect!
- Your stories can also help build a foundation for building a future growth strategy.
- In marketing, the role of storytelling is, according to Bernadette Jiwa, to “show your customer how your product makes him the hero of his story.”
HOW to find good stories:
- Don’t just tell a story with facts and figures. Use the story of a real person to tie it together. Your nonprofit needs a “face” – That human element will get people to look at the facts. Give people someone to empathize with.
“It is difficult for people to generate empathy for a group or a collective. Empathy comes from identifying with ONE person, getting into the shoes of that ONE person, and feeling the same emotions as that ONE person.
If you want people to feel something, give them one person to empathize with.” – Jeremy B. Koch, The 5 secrets of great nonprofit storytelling
- Make sure your stories always connect to your nonprofit.
KNOW your audiences:
- You need to know who your audience is and where they are in order to connect with them.
- Most nonprofits have at least a few main audiences: the clients you serve, your donors, your board of directors, and your volunteers, to name a few.
- Building audience personas is a good way to help you identify the types of people you want to connect and share your stories with. Think of it as a profile of the ideal person or types of people you want to reach.
- Use demographic information (age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, income, location, etc.) and psychographic information (personal values, cultural values, behaviors, interests, influences, etc.) to build audience personas for each of your target audiences.
WAYS to share your stories:
- Use your website or blog as the “home base” where your stories will reside, and link back to these stories in social media, emails, and other communications.
- If possible, use video to tell your stories. A recent Google study found that 57% of people who watch a video go on to make a donation.
A few reminders:
- Make time for storytelling. If you don’t make this a priority, chances are it won’t happen.
- Be sure to define how you communicate with your audiences and the type of tone or voice you want for your organization. A lighthearted tone might be appropriate for one organization, while a more professional tone may be ideal for another.
- Be mindful of what information you can share as well as when you need to conceal the identity of the person the story is about. Change their names, or attribute their quote to “survivor” rather than their name.
- Be creative with photography when someone’s privacy needs to be protected (kids in foster care, victims of domestic abuse, etc.).
- Make sure to share the outcome. Don’t end with a cliffhanger!
- Include an appropriate call to action (Donate now! Learn how to get involved, etc.)
We also invite you to download a copy of our Storytelling for Nonprofits workbook so you can start crafting the stories of your nonprofit in a way that will connect with people in a meaningful way.
If you need further assistance with telling your nonprofit’s stories, please contact us or Heather Loveridge. We are available for consultations, workshops, and creative work (both visual branding and storytelling) and would be happy to schedule a time to work with you and your organization’s leadership team.