June 12, 2021
Make Room for More Storytelling
Let’s talk about making more room for more storytelling, but first let me answer the question you may be asking, “Why do I want to do that?” Well, it’s because sometimes in spite of our best communication efforts, all donors see is…
We’re not letting your donors see the forest for the trees. I’m not saying to do away with your remarkable impact numbers or your program listing. What I’m saying is streamline them and then add more emotional meat to those bones.
Facts Are Not Enough
People don’t connect with or remember bullet points. Talking points are only sticky when served up through stories and messaging that answer these key questions about your nonprofit organization.
Who are you?
What do you do?
How do you do it?
And why should anyone care?
Dan Hill, the author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success says, “If you want to be successful at fundraising the more you make people think, the less they feel and the less they feel, the less they are motivated to give.” In my opinion, the best way to make people think less and feel more is through stories. Stories that donors can emotionally connect to because you’re sharing with them why they should care about your organization and how TOGETHER you can positively change the world. However, you may need to do some housekeeping to make room for this kind of storytelling.
Streamline Your Outputs
By streamlining your outputs, you make room for more storytelling about your outcomes. Nonprofits, you’re notorious for being overachievers. Your list of programs and activities is so impressively long. However, those laundry lists of programmatic efforts are great as proof points for your grant reports to funders, but super hard on your donors’ eyes and don’t easily connect with their hearts.
One way you can make room for storytelling is by organizing areas of service into three to five buckets. This helps donors quickly understand what it is that you do. For example, Friendship Home service areas are crisis services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing.
Emotionally Tell Donors Why
Once you’ve simplified your outputs, you can start adding emotional storytelling elements to your messages that answer the questions Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? And why should anyone care? Ideally, you want to share with donors how their gifts will impact your outcomes. In other words, how their dollars will help your organization make life better.
Here are some examples from Friendship Home’s emotionally charged messaging statement:
“Friendship Home helps victims of domestic violence find physical and emotional safety offering possibilities to help change their lives when things are at their worst – to be hope they can feel.”
This phrase shares who they are.
“Through crisis services, emergency shelter and transitional housing, Friendship Home helps victims gain insight into their trauma and guides them to use their strengths to rebuild their lives.”
This phrase shares what they do.
“There is no judgment, no one telling anyone what to do. Friendship Home is simply about being there to help women and their children during these dangerous and uncertain times.”
This phrase shares how they do it.
“Here to be a hand to hold and an ear to lend, Friendship Home is a true friend empowering everyone who comes through their doors to achieve safety and freedom from violence.”
This phrase shares why they do what they do. And it also articulates their ultimate outcome, which is empowering victims to be free from violence.
Positively Change the World
These are examples of how when you streamline your outputs you make room for more storytelling about your outcomes. Your stories don’t have to be lengthy or riddled with statistics, but they do need to make an emotional connection with your donors – telling them why their gift to your organization matters. Through great stories you can share how together, your nonprofit and its donors, you can positively change the world.