A few weeks ago, I taught a webinar on story planning for 2015. We covered a lot of ground during the webinar, including how to choose your messages, what characters and story types to focus on, and how to coordinate these stories with fundraising appeals throughout the year. I felt a strong calling to teach this webinar because I think it is one of the foundational concepts for non-profit storytellers.
After the webinar, I received a great question from one of the attendees: We do two versions of our donor newsletter – online and offline. Do you know of any best practices? Do you have any suggestions for how to streamline this into an annual plan, to maximize both mediums?
The trend in fundraising over the last few years has been to maximize multi-channel opportunities. Maybe you send out multiple versions of newsletters or appeals or maybe some other form of communication. No matter what, there will inevitably be some differences in the content due to word count limits and the ability to use other mediums. For instance, you would not be able to share a video in the offline newsletter, but you could use a video in the online version. There are good reasons for diversifying our fundraising and communications channels, and chief among them is that you are able to reach more of your audience, which can lead to increased revenue.
If your organization is experimenting with multi-channel fundraising and communications, chances are you are also telling stories across all of those mediums. Ideally the stories and asks will be cohesive and consistent across those channels.
In addition to aiming for cohesiveness and consistency in multi-channel storytelling, take your audience into account. Are the online readers of your newsletter different from the off-line readers of it? How can those differences (demographic, psychographic, and so on) inform how you tell the story or otherwise shape your communication?
For example, if you are a social service organization and you know that your offline audience is primarily over 65, your stories might emphasize an individual struggle. This is also known as the “Tiny Tim” narrative. Whereas for your online audience, which is primarily under 40, you might emphasize your organization’s vision for the future, and the sustainability of that vision. That’s just a hypothetical situation. Knowing your own audience is really valuable as you try to determine how to tell them stories.
To integrate these details into your annual storytelling plan, make notes in the plan about the small adjustments you will need to make in the story delivery, for instance, copy length, video, pictures, etc. These can become helpful reminders as you execute your plan to tell stories across multiple channels.
P.S. I’ll be teaching the Story Planning webinar again in March. Be sure to sign up for email updates below to find out when registration opens. You can also check out our current lineup of webinars.