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How to Perfect Your Nonprofit Story and Inspire Supporters


By Will Schmidt

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Take a moment to think back on the greatest book you ever read. Maybe it was a week ago, or maybe it was when you were in middle school (Where the Red Fern Grows, anybody?). The point is that it stuck with you. You’re still thinking about it, and you can probably remember nuanced details about the story.

Great stories have a profound impact on your life because they help shape our worldview and understanding of one another. In that light, storytelling serves as one of the most powerful tools in a nonprofit’s arsenal. A strong nonprofit story resonates with supporters while also establishing a robust community around a central mission.

Every nonprofit story is worth telling, and each one of those stories has the potential to stick in someone’s mind for weeks, months, or years. As the creator of your nonprofit story, you have to learn how to build it so that it delivers on this impact.

There’s a difference between having a good story in your mind and having a good story on paper. Without the proper knowhow of storytelling you run the risk of spinning your wheels and not moving anywhere.

The Power of Storytelling in Marketing

In marketing, a strong story can communicate the purpose of a brand succinctly and directly to its user base. Successful nonprofit marketers understand this, as well as the fundamental storytelling principle of showing versus telling. It’s much more fun and engaging for your audience if you show them how you help instead of just explaining what you do.

On top of that is the constant fight against boredom and skepticism you’ll face. It’s not because your cause isn’t valid, but rather because the public is so well versed in marketing strategies. They can smell a flawed marketing tactic from a mile away, which is why telling a captivating nonprofit story is so important.

The last thing you want to do is eliminate or alienate any potential donors and supporters. Going above and beyond telling your nonprofit story brings in an element of empathy that strikes a note with your audience. That, in turn, can drive more supporters to your cause.

Storytelling as it Relates to Nonprofits

At its core, the purpose of nonprofit storytelling is to mobilize supporters to donate, fundraise, and advocate on their behalf. Your stories bring your work to life and help donors make an emotional connection to your cause. The good news is that arguably every nonprofit has an enticing story to tell. You can use story to address things like:

  • Your nonprofit’s origins
  • How you and your staff personally connect with your cause
  • The different social impact programs you’re working on, which are gold mines for fresh content

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how big or small your nonprofit is or what your budget is. What’s important is that you position yourself to take full advantage of storytelling to market your campaigns to supporters.

Step one on this path is understanding the importance of telling a great story. From there you have to assess precisely how you’re going to map out the structure of your narrative and how you plan to market it to your supporters.

Where Do I Go From Here?

There’s no straight formula for storytelling, but top nonprofit storytellers share certain best practices to engage their audiences. We’ve compiled these for you in our Guide to Nonprofit Storytelling, in which you’ll learn:

  • How to leverage storytelling to build empathy towards your cause
  • How to structure your stories
  • Which digital storytelling platforms to optimize for

With this guide you’ll be navigating through the finer points of storytelling and engaging your supporters in no time. There are so many inspiring stories unfolding around your nonprofit’s cause. It’s time to share them with the world—download the guide below.

The Guide to Nonprofit Storytelling

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