If you're a one-person fundraising or communications team or even the only staff person at your organization, you're probably juggling a lot of things already. But you've heard storytelling is something you should be doing and now you're trying to figure out how to make it happen for your organization. In my years of consulting with non-profits, I've worked with many small shops and today I want to share some storytelling tips for small non-profits.
Storytelling Challenges Small Non-Profits Face
Before we dive into some tips, let's unpack two of the most common challenges small non-profits face when it comes to storytelling -- time and resources.
As a one-person operation your time is a hot commodity. You've got to prioritize those most important tasks and fight fires as they come up. An activity like storytelling might take a backseat because the reality is that sometimes you can't get to everything on your to do list. Sometimes not being able to get everything done is a function of resources
In addition to lack of time, lack of resources can also impede your storytelling efforts. It could be that you don't have the person power, financial resources, or tools to do what you want to do. But being able to pin-point your missing resource can make it easier to find a solution.
Storytelling Tips for Small
Set Reasonable Goals
Storytelling can be a very nebulous activity that escalates into total overwhelm. The good news is that it doesn't have to be like that. If you worry about not having the time or the resources to tell stories, I recommend taking a few steps back and starting with goal setting.
How do you hope telling stories will help your non-profit? Define what it is you want to get from your storytelling efforts. You could set one goal, or you could try setting good, better, and best variations of your goal. Personally I like the latter because it gives you a spectrum to work with.
You may want to err on the side of setting small goals to start. It could be something like telling one story this quarter. That might not seem like a lot, but it's somewhere to start.
If lack of time is getting the better of you, one easy thing you can do is give yourself time blocks for storytelling. These are pre-scheduled times that you'll work on storytelling. It could be 30 minutes once a week or maybe 2 hours once a month.
The goal is to set a standing appointment with yourself where you can dedicate time to storytelling.
Need more time management strategies? Here are Four Time Management Strategies for Non-Profit Storytellers.
Leverage One Story
I've written about the power of leverage for fundraising and it's something that can also be applied to your storytelling efforts. You may not have the time or resources to share a story a week and that is a-okay! I often tell non-profit professionals that you don't need to be a content creation machine. The truth is that a good portion of your audience won't see something that one time you share it. This means that you can re-share and leverage content you've already created like a story.
As an example, let's say you wrote a story that you plan to share in an upcoming newsletter. In addition to that newsletter, you could also share that story on your social media channels, maybe add it to your website, or file it away to use again in your annual report.
Ask Board Members or Volunteers to Help
Sometimes we just need a few more hands on deck to help us complete a project. There are parts of storytelling that you could ask board members or volunteers to help with. Start by identifying the skill sets your board members and volunteers may have that could support storytelling. For example, someone may have strong writing skills that could help with writing stories. Or, maybe you have someone with great people skills who could help interview people for stories. Work your match making to see what's possible.
Need more inspiration to engage board members in storytelling? Here are 10 Opportunities for Board Members to Tell Stories.
I know your small non-profit has great stories to tell. I hope this tips give you some ideas to make storytelling a reality for your organization.
Ready for more storytelling tips for your small non-profit? Sign up for our next budget-friendly webinar training on February 19th.