Your non-profit has tons of great stories to share with your community. But you don’t need a Hollywood movie sized budget to start sharing nonprofit stories. I talk with non-profit folks all the time who tell me about the budget woes and in these instances the “nice to haves” get tossed by the wayside. Sadly, storytelling has not yet been embraced as a “must have,” which means that many organizations don’t have big budgets for fancy video production.
You do not need a big budget in order to tell stories. In fact some of the best ways to tell your stories are no cost or very low cost. Today I want to challenge you to roll up your sleeves and get creative!
Before sharing the stories, you need to collect the stories. Read the following post 7 tools that can help you collect stories, where I share easy tools to use to collect more stories. These tools include: story calendar, monthly emails, Google Forms, Tumblr, Trello, thank you cards and Evernote.
Now that you have collected your stories and know how to use them, here are 25 cost effective ways to share your nonprofit's stories:
25 Cost Effective Ways to Share Your Non-Profit’s Stories
1. Share a Story in an Email
As fundraisers, email marketing campaigns are the most effective way to communicate directly with your donors and other stakeholders involved. You can share an empathetic story either from a volunteer or a person benefited by the cause you’re supporting.
You don’t know how to use a story in your next fundraising email? I recommend you to follow these key steps when telling a story in your next fundraising email.
2. Add a Story to Your Donor Thank You Letter
Read the following Variety BC stewardship campaign where the organization shares the successful stories from Malakai, a 5 year old boy who has phonological disorder and Milo, a 7-year-old boy with Type 1 Diabetes with their donors.Here’s another great example of nonprofit storytelling in a donor thank you letter from the Australian Red Cross.
Source: Campaign Monitor
3. Tweet Out Your Story
Social Media allows us to connect with our donors and stakeholders in a faster and more engaging way. You can share stories and also create calls to action through every post.
Megan Smith from Constant Contact, has written an article on How to use Twitter for nonprofits. Where she shares the advantage of using Twitter for your nonprofit. She elaborates on the following social media goals that you must establish:
- Awareness: Make people aware of your organization.
- Engagement: Elicit engagement such as following an account, visiting your website, or signing up for an email list.
- Action: Convert that engagement into action that benefits your nonprofit such as volunteering or donation.
4. Feature a Story in a Facebook or Instagram Post
Just like with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are larger social media platforms that contain even more digital tools that can help you share nonprofit storytelling.
With the use of hashtags and trends, your story can reach greater audiences.
Source: MPPH Instagram page
I invite you to read the full study case I have worked on the following 5 non-profit organizations that tell great stories through social media and the name of the platforms they use.
5. Animate Your Nonprofit Story Using PowerpointLike the idea of sharing video stories but don’t have the budget or people for video? PowerPoint to the rescue! You can turn slides into an animated video using music and other features. Here’s a great example made by Slidesalad, as a template for a Charity PowerPoint Presentation Template
6. At a Donor Meeting
Prepping for a major donor meeting? Go through your story bank and bring one great story to share with your donor. If you have a hard copy of the story, you can bring that as something to leave for your donor. Otherwise, share some key pieces of the story during your meeting.
7. Update Your Thank You Call Script with a Story
If your organization has a thank you phone call script for volunteers or board members, give it a refresh and add a story. This is a great way to remind donors of their impact and connect them to the cause.
8. Infuse Your Next Event with Storytelling
If your non-profit hosts virtual or in-person events, there are so many ways to incorporate storytelling into your event. Whether you invite a beneficiary to share an impact story or have a staff member share a heartfelt story, a story can enhance your event program.
Further reading: Here’s how to use storytelling at your next fundraising event.
9. Have a Story in Your Pocket for Networking Events
Fundraisers sometimes find themselves at networking or community events representing their non-profit. As a part of your elevator pitch, you can add in a quick story to give a new contact an introduction to your non-profit.
10. PSA Spots
In case you don’t know this, radio stations have PSA quotas. If you provide a service, consider connecting with a local radio station to see if you can form a partnership to broadcast PSAs that advertise your services and share a story.
11. Feature a Story in Your Next Newsletter
When I’ve talked with members of The Storytelling Non-Profit community about their organization’s newsletter campaigns, the top challenge their organizations were facing was to find the right type of content that keeps their audience engaged. Stories as a great type of content to consider for your next newsletter.Read the following article where I share 10 engaging content ideas for your next non-profit newsletter.
12. Use Nonprofit Storytelling in an Appeal Letter
One of the best ways to drive people to your donation page is direct response email. I have 5 tips for writing a successful e-appeal using nonprofit storytelling:
- Start with an intriguing subject line
- Use a clear, compelling call to action
- Be sure to put a call to action above the fold in addition to the end of the email
- Make sure it’s mobile friendly
- Write like a real person
You can read the full article on this article I wrote on 5 Tips for Writing Great Giving Tuesday Emails.
13. Illustrate a Story in an Infographic
Telling a story using graphic, important data and showcasing it in a well-structured chart, helps to attract readers in a more visual and clear way. In an interview I had with T.J. Mc Govern, he shares with us part of his recent infographic project and explains to us How to tell a non-profit story using an infographic.
Following there’s an example of an infographic created by T.J. Mc Govern for the Autism Society of Indiana.
Source: Autism Society of Indiana
14. On the backside of a business card
Another great media for nonprofit storytelling is utilizing the backside of a business card. Just like Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP) did in the following example, where they decided to share short client reviews from their programs. And at the front of the card, they would share their website and other contact info.
Source: Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP)
15. Create a “Stories” Page on Your Website
What a better way to show the impact of your projects than sharing real life stories on your organization’s page. Data and numbers get personified in the story of a benefactor.
Here’s a great example of a stories page on the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation website.
16. An Unedited Video Captured on Your Phone
There is something really enticing about raw emotion. Try your hand at videography by using your phone to capture short one or two minute videos. Nonprofit storytelling through videos creates such a large impact on donors. Social media further encourages this by creating tools that help you share either prerecorded or live video stories.
You can follow this tutorial on “How to create Instagram stories that engage and excite nonprofit donors” written by Hannah Durbin.
17. Share a story in a blog post
The most common practice for nonprofits is to share a story in a blog post. However, it is important to identify which story to tell. I invite you to read the following blog I wrote about identifying a “Good Story vs. Great Story”.
Here are some examples of blog stories from the Surrey Women’s Centre. I especially love the photography they chose.
18. Use a story in your annual report
Your numbers and results are part of the nonprofit storytelling. However, telling a real story in your annual report can generate more commitment and help from your stakeholders. You can tell the story of a benefactor, a donor or a volunteer. This story needs to be targeted to your audience and reflect the importance of the campaign.
Here are 4 stories to demonstrate your impact in your annual report, an article written by Megan Donahue from Cause Vox.
19. Weave Stories into Your Case for Support
This case for supporting examples from the Oregon Zoo weaves in lots of storytelling. Many of the stories with stakeholders are centered around a central question: Where is your heart in the zoo? What a terrific way to create a through line in the storytelling!
Click on the image to read all the stories.
Source: Oregon Zoo Foundation
20. Add a Story to a Donor Stewardship Report
Storytelling is an important tool that non-profits are using in fundraising and communications. But perhaps its most important role is being able to forge relationships with constituents in a scalable way. Especially when it comes to annual stewardship.
There are 4 types of stories in Stewardship you can share with your donors: a client’s success story, a program staff member’s story, a volunteer’s story, and a story from a fundraiser who was involved in the project
I invite you to read this blog article I wrote on “Story-based stewardship – Why it works”, where you will learn more about these types of stories you can share, the challenges and impact of Stewardship.
21. Tell a story through pictures
Nonprofit storytelling can be made through images. Images speak more than words, people say. You can create a collage, maybe even time lapsed, to convey a story in a different way.
Check out the way UNICEF USA uses Facebook photo albums to tell visual stories.
22. Host a storytelling event where your community
Love Moth-style storytelling events? Lots of people do these days. You can bring together clients, staff, donors, volunteers, board for an evening of networking and storytelling.
23. Story Time a Staff Meetings
Want to add some team building mission moments to your staff meeting? Take the first 10 minutes of your next staff meeting to share stories from around your organization. This is a wonderful way for staff to connect with each other and reconnect with the mission of the organization.
24. Use Stories at Annual General Meeting
Non-profit AGMs can be quite formal with lots of official board business. They can also be an opportunity to connect stakeholders with the heart of your non-profit and inspire those most involved with your organization.
25. Highlight a Story on Your Donation Fage
Here's an example from the OUT Foundation's virtual fundraising event. They used a video at the top of the donation to engage visitors and secure more donations.
As you can see, sharing your organization’s stories does not have to be a costly endeavor. Instead it requires consistency and commitment. I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Which of these 25 ideas are you going to try first?