When it comes to storytelling, fundraising and communications professionals are most challenged by the process of collecting stories. Unfortunately, we don’t have the opportunity to see the amazing work of our non-profits every day, and this means that we don’t have first-hand access to the stories that donors most often want to hear.
It is important to work collaboratively with colleagues to collect these stories. Recently, I wrote about the value of creating a system for collecting stories, and mentioned the idea of creating tools and opportunities for storytelling. In this post, I want to share with you five tools that will help you collect and coordinate stories from your non-profit.
Tool #1 – Story Calendar. Creating a calendar is absolutely essential to successful storytelling. Your story calendar is dependent on your fundraising and communications schedule. First, write out the dates of your appeals or other donor communications. Then write down how many stories you need and what kind of stories you’re looking for. Finally, write down the deadline for each story, or the date that you want to have a first draft of the copy written.
Tool #2 – Monthly Email: Call for Stories. Plan to send out a monthly email to all staff to let them know what kind of stories you’re looking for, where they will be shared and when you need them by. This will help them maintain storytelling as a priority, and give them direction as to what kind of stories to look out for. In a monthly email like this, it’s also great to share positive feedback from donors who have read previous stories. This will encourage staff, and show them that the stories they submit are truly valued.
Tool #3 – Google Forms. This is my favorite story collection tool. I recommend setting up a Google Form as an evergreen collection tool (meaning it will always be there for your staff to use). It is a simple form anyone can fill out, that will facilitate the collection of stories, so there can be no excuses about logistical difficulties! Here’s a sample form that I created to give you an idea of what this could look like.
Tool #4 – Tumblr. What do you do with the stories you receive through the Google Form? They must be developed and saved for future use. Creating a Tumblr account that is set to private (so that you just have it for internal use) is a great option. This can be your central place to save stories, pictures, and videos. You can also create tags to organize your stories, so they will be easy to search for down the road.
Tool #5 – Thank You Cards. Want to encourage your colleagues to submit more stories? A “thank you” can go a long way. Buy fun or thoughtful thank you cards that you can leave on their desks to recognize their help and support.
Do you have any favorite tools for collecting stories? Leave a comment below and share your tools with the community.