The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

3 Breakthroughs to Great Nonprofit Storytelling

Did you meet your year-end fundraising goal? And are you telling your nonprofit’s stories to current and potential donors? If you answered yes to the first question, we bet you also said yes to the second. Storytelling is a super-effective way to connect people with your cause and raise more money for your organization, but getting started can feel more difficult than you anticipated.

Here’s how you can break down some common barriers to nonprofit storytelling.

Barrier #1: I don’t have direct access to our stories.

Maybe you feel one or two steps removed from client services in your job. This makes it challenging to know about all the great stories your donors need to hear. Set up a regular meeting with program staff, even it’s just a 10- to 15-minute check-in, to find out if they’ve worked with any interesting clients, have seen exciting results, or are working on a new initiative.

Remember: You can tell more than just client stories. Talk about donors, other staff members, volunteers, board members, or community advocates.


Barrier #2: I’m not sure where to tell our stories.

Stories can be told anywhere and everywhere and in a variety of ways: in your email appeals or newsletters, on your website, and on your social media channels. You can tell stories in words, photos, or video. The key is to use channels that work for your audience. Tell stories where donors are most likely to interact with them and see them. It’s not worth spending hours on a video if your donors aren’t watching them.

Think about how donors interact with your organization and their typical response methods. Select one of those areas as your first priority for storytelling.


Barrier #3: I don’t have buy-in from senior leadership.

Many executives and board members are clinging to fundraising methods that are no longer effective. It can be frustrating to receive campaign feedback from a senior leader who deletes the storytelling bits and replaces them with dry corporate-speak. In this case, an effective course of action is to “manage up” and educate them about storytelling.

Consider an A-B test or another sort of testing where you can show senior leadership – in quantifiable, measurable terms – the positive effect of storytelling on fundraising.

Whatever storytelling barrier you’re trying to break through, remember that it’s worth the effort. You aren’t telling stories just for the sake of telling a story. You’re connecting donors to their impact, inspiring them to care about your cause, and ultimately raising more money to help your nonprofit’s mission succeed.

Adapted from Network for Good’s Nonprofit 911 webinar “3 Strategies for Using Stories in Year-End Campaigns” with fundraising and communications strategist Vanessa Chase. Download the full webinar here.

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About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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