4 storytelling tips for nonprofits

December 10, 2014

4 storytelling tips for nonprofits

Telling an effective, engaging and emotionally moving story is a great tactic for nonprofit fundraising. Understanding exactly how to craft a successful narrative, however, can be difficult. Here's a look at four best practices than can help nonprofits develop their stories into tools that encourage giving from new and returning contributors:

  1. Make it relatable: One of the major advantages storytelling has over the use of statistics and analytics is the ease with which it can connect with human emotions. With that distinction in mind, it's important to make sure the story is easily understood and digested by readers. Using language to encourage those readers to compare a situation presented in a story can be effective. This is especially true when demonstrating how the community being helped by a nonprofit has few or no resources as compared to the average contributor.
  2. Emphasize relevance: Nonprofit blog Getting Attention highlighted the importance of keeping a story relevant to readers. This can mean finding the right approach to fit in with the current season, an approach often seen around the holidays. Another aspect to consider is developing a sense of timeliness, in that a specific fundraiser or program has a deadline for donations. Letting readers know that they not only have to act, but have to act soon, can be an important motivator.
  3. Keep brevity in mind: Stories don't have to be long to be effective, and can actually be undermined by being too detailed or involved for the average donor to read and understand quickly. Nonprofit Hub suggested using the flexible rule of having a story last between six words and two minutes when read or presented via pictures or video. Starting strong and capturing the attention of readers early is also an important consideration, as it's easy to lose someone's focus at the beginning of a story.
  4. Find fresh perspectives: Getting Attention said it's important to not always go back to the same viewpoint, whether it's specifically written from the perspective of a staff member or with a general, organization-wide tone. Having new, different and interesting voices – whether an employee, a contributor or someone helped by a program – telling a story means a greater chance of a reader feeling a connection or attachment, and a greater chance of generating a donation.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.


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