Collecting the stories that exist at your non-profit organization does not have to be a challenge.
Over the last couple of weeks on the blog, I’ve been detangling the story collection process to help you collect more of the stories that will help your organization raise money.
One solution that I want to introduce you to is story prompts, which I talked about in Monday’s blog post.
The Value of Using Story Prompts
A story prompt is a clear, open-ended question that’s designed to help people think creatively to identify stories that they may have encountered.
This is different than directly interviewing someone for a story.
A story prompt is something that you can share with all of your colleagues in the hopes of soliciting multiple stories to one prompt. In this sense it is scalable and more efficient.
Here’s an example of what a story prompt might entail:
Last week we had a graduation ceremony for people who completed their GED certificate. Of the folks who graduated, who’s accomplishment inspired you the most and why?
That’s just one example. What I really want to show you is how you can create your own custom story prompts.
How to Create a Story Prompt
Creating story prompts is part strategy and part creative writing.
Your goal in telling a story to your donors is to show case the resolution of the story. This is the happy outcome that really highlights the change that your donors have helped facilitate. The temptation in collecting stories is to just ask about this part of the story. Unfortunately, that probably won’t get you the details and emotion leading up to the happy outcome and those are the aspects of the story that we most want to communicate.
The key to creating story prompts that key you the inspiring stories is to focus your questions on the conflict of the story.
Take a look at the example that I shared above. The happy outcome of that story is people getting their high school diploma. I could have asked something like: Tell me about the graduation ceremony last week.”
But that’s a bit too open-ended and does not direct someone to tell me the kind of story that I’m truly looking for. That story is one that is inspiring and uplifting because it highlights the challenges that someone overcame to get the high school diploma. That’s the part of the story that inspires donors to care!
How does this translate into usable information for you to create your own story prompts? Here’s my technique for identifying the story’s conflict enroute to creating a story prompt.
I recommend creating a chart that lists all of the outcomes that your donors and non-profit facilitates. Then in the column on the right hand side, list the possible conflicts that someone might go through on the way to getting to that outcome.
When it comes time to write your story prompts, all you need to do is structure your question around one of the conflicts that you’ve listed. By doing this, you will give your colleagues a clear idea of types of stories that you’re looking for to get their wheels turning.
Story collecting has been a hot topic on the blog recently and I’m looking forward to creating more resources to help you with story collecting.
If you have a few minutes, I’d love to hear from you! Please fill out our survey below:
P.S. stay tuned for a BIG announcement next Monday about Story Prompts! I’ve got some super exciting to share with you!