There is a lot of information out there about nonprofit storytelling. But for many it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start and what to do first.
In today’s blog post, I want to share with you the essentials you need to know in order to be successful in your nonprofit storytelling. Even if you are a seasoned storyteller, this will be a helpful review.
What to do before you start telling stories
In order for storytelling to be successful, there needs to be some degree of buy-in from your colleagues. This might vary based on your org chart or internal approval process. Determine which people in your organization you need on your team and engage them early on in this project.
Every nonprofit has an organizational culture, but not every nonprofit can cultivate a culture of storytelling. I believe this is one of the key differences between nonprofits that tell great stories and those that do not. A culture of storytelling can best be described as one that is dedicated to inspiring internal and external audiences with the work the organization does. To do this, they tell stories. They are obsessed with communication.
Before you start to mass communicate your stories, take some time to figure out your organization’s storytelling guidelines. Get feedback on storytelling from staff members and also refer to your organization’s brand. How will these things influence and shape the stories you tell?
Telling a great story
Individual stories are great, but typically the stories we tell are in support of the much larger narrative of our organization’s work. It is important to make sure your stories all work together, which is why it is beneficial to know your organization’s larger narrative.
Let’s face it, there are lots of good stories out there. But what makes a truly great nonprofit story? Great nonprofit stories have two key qualities: 1) they make us feel something, and 2) they are authentic.
The five parts of a story
There are five parts of any nonprofit story: connection, conflict (external), conflict (internal), resolution, and a call to action.
Connection comes from knowing your audience and building a rapport with them. Conflict demonstrates a need. Resolution shows donors the outcome of a need that was met. The call to action invites donors to be a part of the story and tells them how.
There really is so much to learn about storytelling, and I hope that this review of the basics will help you tell your best stories this year.