Dear Accidental Nonprofit Marketer – You Were Born to Tell Great Stories

You are the accidental nonprofit marketer who’s been asked to create content for your organization. But you have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, you’re excited to express your creativity. But you’re also afraid that your creativity somehow won’t be enough.

Fortunately, YOU (like all humans) are hardwired for storytelling. You are fundamentally equipt to tell stories.

Humans have told stories for thousands of years…

In Werner Herzog’s documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” viewers get exclusive access to the Chauvet caves in the South of France. Werner shows you cave paintings of cave bears, rhinos, wolves, and other animals… painted over 32,000 years ago!

Stories are the key that unlocks engagement and fundraising

Regardless of how technology advances, stories will always play a central role in how we make sense of our world, and how we make decisions.

What role do stories play in nonprofit marketing?

  • Stories Change Minds – The Diary of Anne Frank did more to educate people about Auschwitz than any research on the topic. According to Transportation Theory, storytelling changes how we process information and that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more the story changes you!
  • Stories Invite Participation – When you tell a story, you are essentially creating a framework for the listener or reader to insert their own details, playing an active role in the story itself. For example, if I tell you about the day I finally passed my driving test at age 16, even after running a red light during the test, you automatically create a picture in your mind. You see details I didn’t give you, like make and model of the car, the road and city, and maybe even the expression on the instructor’s face. Your supporters also insert hearts into your nonprofit stories.
  • Stories Raise More Money Than Facts – A fundraising study by Wharton School of Business found that people are more likely to concentrate donations on a single individual, even though more people would be helped if donations were dispersed to help future victims.

Effective storytelling starts with your heart

Storytelling must make your donor feel something. So your first tool should your own heart – your best barometer for great stories.

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John Haydon