Nonprofit Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time, bridging the gap between generations, creating a narrative fabric woven into our very DNA. Marketers are constantly working to harness the power of storytelling to evoke an emotional response and inspire action.
Those at the top of the field are constantly looking for creative ways to convey that message in an effort to fill their pipelines and boost company growth. While this component is a common thread for all marketing, it becomes mission-critical for nonprofit organizations.
The challenge is that storytelling is not something easily learned; some people are natural-born storytellers. If you know your nonprofit’s mission but are unsure of how to create a compelling story to help your organization grow, turn to the Your Business Marketer team and read on for some guidance on how to tell a story that inspires a response.
Where to Start and the Two Why’s?
Before jumping into the deep end, we first have to get our feet wet. For most nonprofits, the story starts with the “why.” In this case, there are two versions of “why” that need to be addressed. One centers on your organization’s vision, mission or otherwise. The other is much less glamorous but is essential for growth.
Understanding Your Why
Most organizations have a clear understanding of what they do and the service they provide to the greater community or world. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because it is tangible. “Our food pantry serves 1000 homeless people each day,” or “we clean up trash to preserve our community’s beachfront.”
Where most organizations miss the boat is in uncovering and advertising why they exist and why people should care. This holy grail of marketing content is often overlooked because it is harder to zero in on. Some organizations avoid it like it is guarded by the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog (that’s a Monty Python joke – if you don’t get it, just keep reading).
The truth is that your why, and why people care, should be the central theme in all of your storytelling and marketing efforts. People want to be engaged with nonprofits that stand for something. Rarely do they support an organization more than they do a cause. The organization is simply the mechanism that ties the two together.
Why Your “Why” Matters
If the first “why” that we covered is the shining knight, the second is the sword, serving as the trusted tool. You will be hard pressed to find a successful nonprofit that does not fundraise in some manner. This is where your understanding of your “why” gets put into action.
As previously mentioned, the goal of marketing is to generate an emotional response. For nonprofits, the ideal response is often donations that help further the cause. Simply telling someone that they need to donate might occasionally work, but it will regularly fall on deaf ears. Turning your “why” into a compelling story that tugs at the hearts of your audience will make it easier for donors to engage and open their wallets.
Storytelling in a Digital World
Now that you know the why—and the why behind it—it is time to turn our attention to how nonprofits can get their message to a wider audience. For millennia, storytelling pretty much lived in the house of oral communication.
The digital age has kicked that door down with the ferocity of a Chuck Norris roundhouse, making it easier than ever for organizations to get their message to wider audiences. Here are three ways to implement storytelling into your marketing strategy.
1. Video Content
The days of sitting by the campfire, listening to the elders tell stories of our ancestors are sadly a thing of the past. Storytelling, today, has shifted largely to digital mediums, especially those on social media. In these realms, video is the crowning jewel of content.
Video’s ability to allow a viewer to quickly engage is its most powerful feature to a marketing team. Record your story on video and share it for all the world to see. Typically, video content features the head of the organization or prominent donors, such as celebrities that are easily recognizable. If you are a small nonprofit, the message should come from your founder.
2. Include Your Story On Your Website
Your organization’s website is a window into what makes you unique. It is a platform and a beacon for all of those supporters who are interested in helping your cause. This is prime real estate for storytelling. It can come in the form of video content, as we previously discussed, or through text and related images.
The most important takeaway is that the story should be front and center on all pages of your website. That is not to say you need a mission statement on each page, but there should be a thread of commonality in the language, phrasing and action items you use.
3. Infuse Your Story in All Marketing Content
This last point should not be an earth shattering revelation, but your story should permeate all of your marketing content and branding. When someone sees information about your organization, they should have a clear understanding of your mission within seconds.
For social media content, change the words “We want” to “We believe…” to help those unfamiliar with your organization know that you stand for something worth their time. Then, make it as easy as possible for them to become a patron.
Finding a Marketing Team to Help with Storytelling
Start with getting a clear understanding of your why, then broadcast it as far as possible. In theory this seems simple, yet so many nonprofit organizations struggle with this aspect of marketing their mission. When you hit a roadblock, your next call should be to a professional team.
The Your Business Marketer team has become a trusted source throughout Ohio and the midwest. Our team has helped nonprofit organizations uncover the greater meaning behind their mission, and can shape your story so that you can soar to new heights. Connect with our team today, or visit our website to learn more.