Power of Storytelling | Feeling story-stuck! Here are seven tips to inspire.

June 25, 2018


Do you struggle to find your organization’s best stories? Are you often at a loss, wondering which stories will resonate the most with your donors? What about framing the stories that you uncover to make them compelling? That can sometimes be a challenge too, can’t it? By now, I’m sure you already know that finding and sharing your organization’s best stories is key to your donor communications and your fundraising.

So what can you do when you feel stuck? Go forth and get inspired! Here are seven ways you can get out of the rut and rock your organization’s storytelling…

  1. Repurposing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can return to a story again (and again and again and again!), because you can flip it one hundred different ways. You can even use a story that feels similar to one you’ve told before. It’s all about how you do it, and the possibilities are endless. Stories themselves are enduring and timeless. Check out this example to see how Heifer makes repurposing work, eliminating the redundancy blues. 
  2. Serialization. In your grandparent’s day, radio was their go-to method for communications. And serialized soap operas reigned supreme. Serialization is a smart technique for making stories both enduring and accessible for your readers (and supporters). It involves breaking a story down into installments. Going about storytelling this way not only captures your donors’ attention — it holds onto it. That’s not always the easiest thing to accomplish. Check out the saga of Bruce Almighty for a prime example of how to navigate serialization in your stories. 
  3. Your founder’s story. Did you ever think about how your founder’s story can be framed in a way that gives it the power to resonate deeply with your supporters? See how charity : water created a founder’s story that’s compelling and resonates deeply, to the point you just might need your box of tissues. 
  4. When you’ve made a boo-boo. Yes, it happens to the best of us. Organizations are built and supported by human beings, and humans make mistakes. Maybe you did something that caused your donors to doubt you or lose a bit of faith in you. So what’s the best way to handle your snafu? Honesty. Admit your mistake and explain how you plan to do things better going forward. The South Florida Museum made an unfortunate mistake that led to a devastating outcome, but they vowed to be better in the future, and that promise is exactly what their donors needed in order to restore their trust. 
  5. With social media. If you work it right, social media can be the foundation for a killer storytelling campaign. It allows you to not only reach your donors through multiple platforms, but to create a storytelling network that really pulls your audience in. Give them the power to connect to you on a whole ‘nother level. Exchanges happen on social media that don’t happen anywhere else, and those exchanges could be between you and your donors. The Animal Protective Association of St. Louis wanted to communicate a plea to their supporters to adopt adult dogs. So they created a clever, masterful social media campaign advocating for just that, and you’ve got to check it out! 
  6. With a six-word story. When you feel short on creativity juices, inspiration is key. But how can you find it? This exercise may be just what you need to kick-start your brain out of its funk. It’s called Six Word Stories, and it’s straight from Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson’s fundraising essential (seriously, if it’s not on your shelf, why not?), Train Your Board (and Everyone) To Raise Money. Did you know Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest American writers of all time, was a six-word-story master? For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Even in the smallest moments, we can find inspiration, and we can find stories. Small things often become the building blocks of something much bigger. 
  7. Enroll in Nonprofit Storytelling | Basics & More. I’ve included the aforementioned Six Word Story exercise from Andrea and Andy’s book, along with a surplus of other content that will equip you with the tools to banish the storytelling blues. The cool thing is, regardless of where you are in this, your nonprofit needs strong stories, and always will. So you’ve got to keep them coming. Whether you don’t know where to start or you need help strengthening the stories you’ve already got, this class was made for you. Four weeks jam packed with material, plus access to support before, during, and long after the class is over, along with additional slots so you can get your team on board, finding and sharing your organization’s best stories. What are you waiting for? Click here to learn more and register now.

 

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