The art of storytelling can help strengthen your organisation by attracting supporters to your campaign. This is because simple stories with people at their heart paint vivid and emotive pictures which have a real impact on those who read them, distancing charities from clinical statements of policy and values. So what makes a good story, and how can your organisation employ storytelling as part of its fundraising strategy?
Your story should:
Be short and simple: Your story shouldn’t take more than a minute to read or watch and shouldn’t try to cover too many bases.
Be active: Your story should tell of something happening or discuss doing things. You need to be able to communicate that by taking action, things can change.
Have a strong central character: The person at the centre of your story must be someone your audience will care about. They must be memorable, with admirable qualities.
Have a turning point: The outcome of your story must show change or a resolution. Let your audience know what is achievable as a result of getting involved.
How to tell your story:
You should provide ample opportunity for your audience to make personal connections so as to encourage future donations or involvement. Position your audience at the centre of your story by constantly asking yourself why they should be interested in the story you’re telling, and what action you’d like them to take as a result of hearing it. Tell your story in a straightforward and candid manner, placing emphasis on what people can achieve by uniting with your charity.
Make your narrative relevant to wider society. You can achieve this through storytelling which implies that your audience is as much an individual as they are a member of a unified group, for example by including “you” and “others”. The phenomena of “social proof” dictates that by essentially pitting your audience’s behaviour against others, for example through testimonials, they will suddenly be more inclined to engage in this behaviour too – such as donating!
Where to tell your story
Charities with strong donor engagement often feature an entire section on their website dedicated to “stories”. You should publish your stories on your website and categorise them as appropriate, for example, you can classify examples as “stories”, “testimonials” or “case studies” depending on the source. You can also cleverly incorporate storytelling into your social media, either as links to blogs or as short, arresting posts with an accompanying image for extra impact. Depending on your budget, larger scale marketing can be utilised, such as online ads or radio airtime.
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