2014 is the year of the horse according to the Chinese Zodiac. Richard Branson recently declared 2014 the “year of the entrepreneur.” And since I don’t really want to be left out, I’m saying it’s the year of the story.
Last week, I covered part one of developing your storytelling strategy for this year. In that post we covered how to set your goal for the year as well as creating an umbrella message that will guide your storytelling efforts. If you haven’t had a chance to read part one, take a minute to read it before continuing on. Trust me – today’s post will make more sense if you do!
The final two parts to developing your storytelling strategy include creating a system for collecting stories and seamlessly integrating storytelling with the rest of your fundraising efforts.
My approach to storytelling is more about leveraging what you already do, rather than making more work for you and your team. This include creating systems that make your job easier and making sure that everything you do complements what you are already doing for fundraising. After all – what good would storytelling be if it worked against your fundraising program?
Collecting the Stories
Collecting stories has long been the biggest headache of them all. During Socially Good’s #GivingTuesday tweet up, many of us commiserated over the challenges of unearthing stories. My experience has suggested that collaboration is the lynchpin of the whole system. Naturally the question that comes to mind is – how can we foster collaboration to make gather stories easier?
Establishing storytelling as a part of your non-profit’s internal culture is the best way to achieve this. Start by telling each other more more stories internally if you want to tell more stories externally. Schedule 5 minutes at the beginning of your next staff meeting to swap stories. I think that sometimes the fundraising staff feel like they don’t have any stories to tell. That the only stories worth telling are the ones from clients. But that simply is not true. Had a donor tell you how much they loved reading about one of your programs? Let the program person in charge know that other people care about their work – they will definitely appreciate the special kudos!
In terms of creating a “system” for collecting stories. Consider setting up a Google form or a paper form where people can write down the pertinent details of a story. This might include the story’s character (who it’s about), what problem they faced (the conflict), how they overcame it (your organization’s role) and so on. Send out a monthly reminder email to all staff about the form and give a shout out to a story that you’ve received in the previous month.
Perhaps the secret sauce of it all is figuring out how to make all the parts and pieces work together. That’s why I consider this the final part of any storytelling strategy. How can it be integrated into the other fundraising work that you’re doing?
The answer to this question lies in your fundraising plan. (You’ve got one of those, right??)
Between knowing the umbrella message that you want to share with donors this year, as well as when appeals and other communications will drop, you can figure out exactly when you’ll need stories and what kinds. From a logistics standpoint, this is a HUGE advantage!
When you know what stories you’ll need and for what appeals or communications, you can start to inform your colleagues about your story needs. This in turn can make their job of collecting stories easier because they have a clear sense of what you need. It no longer becomes a “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to gathering stories.
To Recap . . .
Over the course of these two posts, we’ve covered exactly what you need to do to create a storytelling strategy this year. This includes:
Setting your goal
Creating the umbrella message
Collecting the stories
Following this four step strategy will help you get organized, intentional and more successful this year. Let the storytelling begin!