Do You Use Stories in These Two Ways?

Do You Use Stories in These Two Ways?

Please stop telling me to use stories and tell me how to use them! How many times have you thought that as you read another article about the importance of storytelling for non-profits?

It’s not that you and I don’t appreciate the why explanation, but now we’re convinced. And we’re ready to use our non-profit stories to connect with our supporters on a much deeper level. But how can we best use our stories?

Here are two ways you should definitely use your stories:

1.      Support Facts

When people give, they want to make a difference no matter what cause they’re supporting. But how on earth can their donation help 1 billion people? It can’t. No matter how much they give or how much you ask. The problem is too big to fix. This is where a strong story comes in. Use a story to show a piece of the problem (one person, one family, make it something small) in a way that someone can visualize.

Mention your big number (if you must), then make it a smaller number (1 billion = 1 in 7). We can better picture what 1 in 7 people looks like. Now, tell a story about that one person who the donor can help.

If you want great examples of this (delivered straight to your inbox), sign up for World Food Programme’s email list. They’re tackling a huge problem but every time they ask for money, it’s to help one person or one family for a period of time that is completely manageable. How about this: Give $18 to feed a family in Syria for 1 week. It’s hard to say no to that.

2.      Better Explain “What You Do”

The “What We Do” section of your website can be fascinating. It can take the reader on a journey that they otherwise can’t experience. It can make someone say “I need to part of that.” But chances are it doesn’t.

How do you know? Just answer these questions:

  • Is the language specific to the work you do (aka jargon)?
  • Do you show results primarily with numbers?
  • Do you talk about the solutions to the problem without emotion?
  • Does this section rely on intellectually rational information?
  • Do you have a separate stories section on your website?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, it’s time to improve this section with stories.

Use relevant pieces of stories to exemplify your work. This is especially useful if you are dealing with a complex problem, like Peace Brigades International Canada (PBI Canada). Check out their homepage to see a great example of using a story to describe what they do (and why their work is important).

If you want a hand or need some advice for using your non-profits stories effectively, send Cynthia an email:

posted on Mar 28

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