When we talk about storytelling, there is a spectrum of stories that we can tell our audience. Most often, we think of the Supporting Stories that we can share – success stories, donor stories, client stories, volunteer stories, etc. But many organizations overlook their BIG Story. This is the story that communicates who your organization is and what you stand for.
The BIG Story is what your donors identify with and what attracts them to your organization.
Think about this – Donors want their philanthropic giving to be meaningful. They want to make a difference in this world. In your organization’s communication of who you are and what you stand for, you have inspired them to see that those things are possible through their gift to your organization.
Why do you need to know your BIG Story?
Your non-profit’s BIG Story is what makes your organization memorable and helps you stand out from the crowd. It is the best elevator pitch you can give to someone who asks, “What does your organization do?”
But the problem is that the vast majority of non-profit organizations do not flush out their messaging in order to communicate this story and message in a powerful way. Last week I shared the example of local cancer agencies here in Vancouver and how their BIG story is watered down to the point of not being memorable.
If you’re looking for support in refining your BIG Story, check out this post.
How to communicate the BIG Story to your donors
Whether or not your organization has the BIG Story nailed down, one of the challenges is how you can continuously tell this story to your community so that it becomes a part of the fabric of your non-profit’s identity. Let’s look at a few ways that you can amplify this story on your journey to stand out from the crowd.
Your Website’s About Page – How boring are most About Pages? I personally dread reading them because there are a chronological account of an organization’s history and work. But this is a great opportunity to provide people with a lively, compelling story – your BIG Story.
At Community Events – Your BIG Story is your best elevator pitch. When you’re at community events or if you’re just talking with friends and family about your work, this is a great opportunity to tell them the BIG Story.
Fundraising Appeals – You can weave aspects of your BIG Story into your appeal letters to remind people why they love your organization. Think of them as “mental nods” that your readers will be giving the letter as they read it and identify with what you wrote.
Thank Your Letters – Much like fundraising appeals, this is an opportunity for you to remind donors of why they identify with your cause through shared vision and values. Use pieces of your BIG story to remind them of it.
Your might think that telling this story over and over again will fatigue your donors. But the truth is, it can sometimes take 6+ times of being exposed to a message before we remember it. Be consistent and you’ll be memorable.