Nonprofit Storytelling: 4 Tips to Motivate Supporters

Good stories connect people – to an idea or new information, and most importantly, to other people. Through nonprofit storytelling, we step into someone else’s shoes. The transformational power of story both engages and changes us. These four tips will help you motivate others with your organization’s story:

1. Tell a deeper story

To persuade someone to act, you have to dig deep. Avoid overuse of cold corporate-speak by letting those on the receiving end of your services do the talking.

Share stories that are out of the ordinary and be candid in their telling. The power of story comes from its truth — universal and yet uniquely personal at the same time. The more open you are in telling your organization’s story, the more people will identity with your cause. Include diverse viewpoints to make your story real – and relatable.

To uncover new perspectives, create an environment where story sharing is comfortable and encouraged.

2. Be concise

What’s your elevator pitch? How would you sum up the purpose behind your work in one anecdote? As you strive to communicate your mission succinctly through story, your organization itself will gain clarity — and so will your stakeholders.

3. Create a visual

Imagination is sparked through high-quality photography or accomplished with simple narrative techniques. Show, don’t tell. Create an image that allows your audience to visualize your story, step inside it and be changed. Vivid video and photography speak for themselves. Also, in your writing, paint pictures with metaphor and action that give your readers a front-row seat on the mission.

4. Provide a path

If you want to inspire your audience to do something, help them see next steps clearly. If they want to act, where do they start? Provide a call-to-action, further information or a way to get involved in every story.

Cathy Gordon is a multimedia producer who specializes in the art of storytelling at Signal Hill.

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