We’ve all watched the commercials, and you know what I mean; the ones that get you right in the feels. They tell us a story with the intention of stirring up emotions that we will in turn hopefully act on. I’m sure you could name a few right off the top of your head. I bet the ASPCA spot where they play the Sarah McLachlan song, “Arms of an Angel“, is one of the first that come to mind. Many of this year’s Super Bowl commercials were heavy on story telling as well.
It’s obvious that storytelling works if you want to elicit emotions and create a lasting memory, but how do you turn those feelings into actions? How do you convert viewers into volunteers and donors? We’ll give you five things to keep in mind when using storytelling in your organization.
Be Authentic: If you are going to tell a story, tell your story. That’s the point after all. Share a narrative that your organization has been part of and the services it provides. Bonus points if you use one of your own volunteers or someone your group has helped specifically. If and when you can, include their names, as this makes it all the more real to those viewing. They can put a name and face to your story and cause.
Message and Mission: Several of our past posts have focused on creating a cohesive message and coherent mission when organizing your non-profit. This pulls through when storytelling. Just because it’s a good story doesn’t mean it’s the right story. Make sure it connects to your mission and message.
Make It Quick: We have also discussed how to get the attention of different age demographics like Millennials and Generation Z. One of the key components when trying to reach these cohorts is time. Don’t make your story long and drawn out; they will move on and likely miss the point. Keep things sweet and simple. If you are using a video, aim for keeping it around 90 seconds, and if it’s text based, limit it to one to two sentences. This will save on advertising costs as well.
Consider Your Audience: Who are you targeting with this anecdote? Do you want them to volunteer or donate? Are you informing those you can help with which services you offer? Do you want them to act and/or raise awareness? Ask these questions while choosing and crafting your story so you can plan your message accordingly. Also, take into account what demographic you are going after; this makes a huge difference in how you approach this situation.
Call to Action: You are telling this story for a reason. You want to evoke emotions in them, but most importantly, you want them to act. It’s not enough to have them feel like they need to do something. They need an avenue to do it! This is where your organization comes in. It’s a must to include pertinent information like your website and how they can get involved. Make it easy for them! The simpler it is to act, the more likely your audience is to participate.
Your story is worth being told; get out there and tell it effectively! Share your story with us. What are some tips you have for storytelling in the nonprofit sector, what has worked, what hasn’t?