Great Nonprofit Storytelling that Pays Back!

In this ebook, Margaret Battistelli Gardner will walk you through how to present your nonprofits stories in a way that compels your audience not only to care about your nonprofits mission, but inspires them to action.

Despite the belief that there are “data” people and “emotions” people, the truth of the matter is that every human being, every single one of us, is hardwired to react to stories, to respond to the human connection, to tap into a shared consciousness. Witness the enduring power of myths that stretch across time, location, and ideologies.

And while the temptation is there to attempt to encourage giving by inundating potential donors with facts and figures, research has shown that’s simply not the way to go. People are more likely to give when presented with the story of just one hungry child than with data that paints a picture of thousands of people suffering from hunger.

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In this ebook, Margaret Battistelli Gardner will walk you through how to present your nonprofits stories in a way that compels your audience not only care about your nonprofits mission, but inspires them to action.

A Sneak Peak Into Great Nonprofit Storytelling that Pays Back!

Take an Inside the Chapters of This Ebook:

Intro

It was a sultry summer night in New York City, and as is wont to happen on sultry New York nights, a story was unfolding.

The holding area of a trendy NYC restaurant was packed nearly to the point of being uncomfortable. A throng of fundraising professionals fresh from the last session of a big annual conference were huddled together chatting, laughing, on somewhat silly, low-sitting chairs near the front door. Harried servers maneuvered their way through the maze of bodies, serving drinks and ushering people to tables.

In one of those moments when the flow and volume of a dozen different conversations seem to hit a lull all at once, one word rose from the chatter: 

“Armadillos.”

With that one word (plus a healthy dose of quiet charm and obvious passion), Glenn Waterman captured the attention of the room.

“There are about 5,000 cases of leprosy in the United States. Most of them are caused by armadillos,” Glenn, who at the time was director of development at The Leprosy Mission Canada (now effect:hope), continued…

Chapter 1:  Why Is Nonprofit Storytelling important?

Despite the belief that there are “data” people and “emotions” people, the truth of the matter is that every human being, every single one of us, is evolutionarily hardwired to react to stories, to respond to the human connection, to tap into a shared consciousness. Witness the enduring power of myths that stretch across time, location, and ideologies.

And while the temptation is there to attempt to encourage giving by inundating potential donors with facts and figures, research has shown that’s simply not the way to go…

Chapter 2:  Key Elements Of Successful Nonprofit Storytelling

Crafting stories for the purpose of fundraising is both an art and a science. While the basics of overall good storytelling hold true, nonprofit storytelling has a specific goal: to raise money. Specific goals mean specific processes. But to better understand the mechanics of nonprofit storytelling, you must first understand donors, why they give and what they want.

Donors give:

  • Because they want to make a difference
  • Because they want to put their values into action…

 

Chapter 3:  The Nitty-Gritty: Writing The Story

According to Chip and Dan Heath, authors of “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other Die,” there are six key principles to making an idea unforgettable: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. (The initial letters spell out “success”—well, almost.) In the case of writing for fundraising, the first five are what make the sixth (our stories) memorable and effective.

Tul Pinkaew, founder and director of strategy at SideKick, a Bangkok-based creative and media agency for social change, defines a nonprofit fundraising story…

Chapter 4:  Tips For Effective Nonprofit Storytelling

  • Remember the most important word in the storyteller’s dictionary: YOU. It should greatly outnumber the words “I” or “WE.”
  • Put the donor in every story
    • Make her the protagonist
    • Your gift will help us save these vital wetlands. Your gift will help save these vital wetlands. Help us rescue the children! Rescue the children! 
    • Support our outreach work in the schools. Reach out to kids in the schools.

 

Chapter 5:  Nonprofit Storytelling To Thank and Report

Successful fundraising is a continual cycle of ask, thank, report, repeat. And thoughtful, well-researched, well-crafted stories can serve just as well on the thank and report arcs of the circle as they do in acquisition. And like in acquisition, it’s important to keep the donor in the story…

Chapter 6:  Conducting Interviews For Fundraising Stories

Obviously, before you can do any of the above for acquisition, thanking or reporting, you have to gather information for your stories. It’s important to remember that you are not the storyteller. The people you’re writing about are. Again, you are a catalyst, the vehicle that transports these moving, inspiring, often sad, sometimes frightening stories from the mouths and minds of the people who live them to the ears, hearts and heads of the people who need to hear them…

Chapter 7:  5 Tips For Keeping It Real

You can go into your nonprofit storytelling armed with all the writing tips in the world. But truth be told, they won’t translate into effective fundraising if the information you’re sharing doesn’t ring true. Or if it somehow compromises the dignity or integrity of your constituents…

Chapter 8:  Challenges: Tickle Your Brain

  1. Write an entire appeal without saying the name of your organization.
  2. Use these brainstorming prompts from Jeff Brooks for telling great fundraising stories. They can help you see a fundraising story with a fresh perspective, so you can reach deeply into readers’ motivations and tell…

Chapter 9:  Creating A Culture Of Nonprofit Storytelling

Capturing the stories of the people you serve shouldn’t be a one-off effort that comes up fresh with every new campaign. And it needn’t fall onto the shoulders of any one staff member or even department. 

A culture of storytelling within your organization will…

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