What’s your story? Or rather – what’s your organization’s story? Are you utilizing storytelling in your fundraising? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to help donors get closer to your organization and the people or causes you serve.

Here are a few simple strategies to consider to get started:

  1. What are the stories that could show – instead of telling – the impact of your organization in the community? Consider selecting stories that are relatable, timely, and that demonstrate how donor support is helping your organization fulfill your mission. Remember, stories help demystify the work you do.
  2. Consider another angle. Do you always focus on one aspect of your programming or one type of client success story? Stories can highlight lesser known elements of what you do which may appeal to new or broader audiences. The same is true in the medium you choose. A longer narrative in a direct mail appeal or newsletter may appeal more to some groups, while short videos or visual infographic may appeal to others. Our guests from Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation shared this video, connecting its viewers to the foundation’s mission of supporting schools and their students.
  3. Make storytelling a key part of your communications strategy and annual plan. Plan ahead to identify the types of stories you want to tell over the year and where you will tell them. Our guest, Kate Klemp from Cherry Health Foundation discussed how to plan out and gather stories – and you can see from their stories that it’s a routine part of their annual fund strategy!

Gathering stories in any nonprofit can be challenging. Try some of these tricks:

  1. Building relationships with the key storytellers of your organization will make an incredible difference.
  2. Offer an incentive for those who share a story.
  3. Have clear parameters of what type of story you are looking for.
  4. When taking a tour of your organization, ask program staff to share the story of what compels them to do their job.
  5. Incorporate mission moments into staff meetings; share these mission moments in board meetings to help engage your board.

While stories are important, leveraging your case for support is just as important. If you’re not using your case, it’s time to dust that off and put it to use! Think of your case as a pantry – you can pull what you need from it when you need it. It’s a good starting place when thinking about how to talk about your organization and the need you address, as well as a powerful training tool to help ensure your board and other stakeholders can do the same. Think event scripting, video talking points, training the board on their 30-second elevator pitch.

If you don’t have a case for support, or if you’re struggling to incorporate more meaningful stories into your annual communications, we’re here to help! Reach out via our contact form – we’d love to help you leverage your unique story for greater success.