When it comes to storytelling, fundraising and communications professionals are most challenged by the process of collecting stories. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the opportunity to see the amazing work of our non-profits every day, and this means that we don’t have first-hand access to the stories that donors most often want to hear.
It is important to work collaboratively with colleagues to collect these stories. Recently, I wrote about the value of creating a system for collecting stories, and mentioned the idea of creating tools and opportunities for storytelling. In this post, I want to share with you five tools that will be useful for when you start collecting non- profit stories.
7 TOOLS YOU NEED TO USE WHEN COLLECTING NON-PROFIT STORIES
Use these easy to use tools and make your process of collecting non-profit stories a most efficient one.
- Story Calendar
- Monthly emails
- Google Forms
- Thank you cards
1) Story Calendar:
Creating a calendar is absolutely successful storytelling and useful for better organization when collecting non-profit stories. Your story calendar is dependent on your fundraising and communications schedule. These are the steps to follow:
a. Write out the dates of your appeals or other donor communications.
b. Write down how many stories you need and what kind of stories you’re looking for.
c. Write down the deadline for each story, or the date that you want to have a first draft of the copy written.
We have a free resource called the Monthly Content Planner Kit to help non-profit communications professionals streamline their content planning process to get more organized, more consistent, and more strategic.
In the video below I explain to you how to use this free tool I created to help you with a monthly content calendar:
2) Monthly Email: Call for Stories
Plan to send out a monthly email to all staff to let them know what kind of stories you’re looking for, where they will be shared and when you need them by. This will help them maintain storytelling as a priority, and give them direction as to what kind of stories to look out for. In a monthly email like this, it’s also great to share positive feedback from donors who have read previous stories. This will encourage staff, and show them that the stories they submit are truly valued.
I have written an article on How to coordinate collecting stories from staff, where I share key tips for you.
It is also important that you give prompts to the staff in order to collect their stories. Read this article where I showcase some examples on this subject.
3) Google Forms:
This is my favorite story collection tool. I recommend setting up a Google Form as an evergreen collection tool (meaning it will always be there for your staff to use). It is a simple form anyone can fill out, that will facilitate the collection of stories, so there can be no excuses about logistical difficulties!
What do you do with the stories you receive through the Google Form? They must be developed and saved for future use. Creating a Tumblr account that is set to private (so that you just have it for internal use) is a great option. This can be your central place to save stories, pictures, and videos. You can also create tags to organize your stories, so they will be easy to search for down the road when collecting non-profit stories.
Trello is a free management tool that is very flexible and helps you visualize better the project you’re working on. I have chosen Trello to create a story bank.
Read this blog to understand the importance of creating a story bank and how to do it. Or you can also create a story library for your non-profit.
As non-profit fundraisers, we understand the importance of storytelling throughout our work. Any sort of organizational system is very useful when creating our communication plan to our donors.In the following video, I explain to you how to create a story bank using Trello.https://thestorytellingnonprofit.com/blog/trellostorybank/
6) Thank you cards:
Want to encourage your colleagues to submit more stories? A “thank you” can go a long way. Buy fun or thoughtful thank you cards that you can leave on their desks to recognize their help and support.
Evernote is a cloud-based word processor that allows you to capture information and categorize it for future use. In addition to being able to type notes, it also has an audio recording function, which is great for when I’m collecting non-profit interview stories. But the thing that I love most about it is that it has a terrific mobile app. That means you can access and record stories at your desk or on the go.
In the video below, I have made a tutorial on using Evernote for your non-profit stories collection.
Do you have any favorite tools for collecting stories? Leave a comment below and share your tools with the community.
Deeanna Burleson says
IT is useful to create a blog, receive stories as blog responses to the request and purpose? If so, what is a recommended blog application that would be best for this type of approach. I would like to collect healthcare experience stories from providers, patients and families. Confidentiality is a requirement (perceived). In addition to collecting the stories to also create a site where others can identify they are not alone and create a place for dialogue.
Hannah Wiginton says
Thanks for the great article. I’ve finally gotten to the point where people know I’m the person to send pictures and stories to when they have them!! Yay! I’ve tried the form and the thank yous, but have not tried the monthly, consistent, expected email. I’m going to schedule them now!
Vanessa Chase Lockshin says
That’s terrific to hear, Hannah! Good luck with the emails.