Three Ways Nonprofits Can Use Storytelling

By Nathan Young - Storytelling Consultant

Storytelling is becoming an increasingly popular idea for nonprofits, and for good reason!

Storytelling is a tool that creates emotional resonance with the audience. By sharing a story of the important work your organization does, it enable you to communicate your message in a way that can be more memorable and engaging. Yet, I commonly hear from people that they are aware of storytelling, they understand it’s significance, but are not quite sure how it could be valuable for them.

For nonprofits the most obvious application of storytelling can be for fundraising and development. By incorporating the stories of the important work they do into their donor communication, nonprofits have the opportunity to increase their fundraising goals and retention of their donors too. A development staff that is trained in storytelling will not only be able to recognize and share the stories of the organization’s work, they will also be able to build a stronger rapport with donors and understand what motivates them to support the organization.

Nonprofits also increasingly need tools to cut through the media clutter to get their marketing message out there. This can be for fundraising, special events, programs or volunteer recruitment. Cash strapped nonprofits don’t have the budget for big ad campaigns, so whatever message you put out there has to have an impact. Storytelling is a tool that allows the organization to share their mission in a way that engages the audience and expresses the importance and empathy inherent in the mission.

Program managers can also use storytelling to better communicate with each other and the populations they work with. The mission of many nonprofits requires trust and understanding. By sharing stories with each other, a stronger camaraderie can be built. Program managers also have the most direct contact with the ground level work of the organization. They represent a crucial step in recognizing stories and communicating them to the marketing and development staff.

Want some help with planning your own stories? I've got the perfect tool for you. Sign up below and I’ll send you my Story Planner Worksheet. It will walk you through the basic steps of crafting the stories you can have handy for your organization.