If 2016 threw some curveballs at us, 2017 is shaping up to be reminiscent of a game of dodge ball year for nonprofits. In addition to the number of challenges that nonprofits already contend with, many are now facing an unsupportive political climate. The loss of federal funding could mean some non-profits will struggle to stay afloat. Now more than ever nonprofit organizations must utilize the heart of their story to connect with their audience and engage donors.
What can you do to make your mission more clear and relevant? How can you drive more awareness and engagement with your organization? Will you be able to meet and exceed your fundraising goals this year? In short, how are you going to accomplish the goals of your organization? You might be surprised to learn the answer has less to do with information, and more to do with the heart of your story.
Of course providing accurate information in your communications is important. No one wants to donate to an organization they don’t trust. But there is something more important. While data may be what makes your mission necessary, stories of impact are what make your mission relevant.
In my opinion, great storytelling comes down to the Why.
Why is a simple yet mystifying question. You can provide your donors with countless statistics and percentages that describe in great detail the who, what, when and where of a problem, but stats will never give the donor a reason why they should care. The power of your story is not simply a matter of identifying who you help, or how you help them. The true power of your organization’s story is found in communication why you choose to help. It’s found in both the written and visual story you tell.
Try this: Ask your coworkers, and your boss why your organization does what it does? Their answers will probably give you some surprising insight into the values of your organization. Take it one step further and ask yourself why you personally get out of bed every day and do what you do, instead of doing something else? Ultimately, donors need to know why they should invest their time and money in your organization. They are asking why just like you are asking why.
When telling the story of your work or clients, you need to go deep. Not just scratching the surface on what the problem is. Think about it. We’ve all heard people make general statements like, “They choose to be homeless.” When really, the heart of someone’s story of homelessness is more than that. Our role is to share that story with heart and soul.
- When using imagery, strive for close up photos. Add an image of someone looking toward your Call To Action or story. Eye-tracking studies show we’ll look in the same direction.
- Colors evoke different responses. Red evokes urgency, while blues bring a sense of trust.
Need some help identifying your narrative? Think about what your community would look like if your nonprofit did not exist. What problems would grow worse? What would happen if these problems are never resolved? What is gained when these problems are overcome? Asking these questions will help you better frame your mission and purpose in real-world narratives rather than in data or statistics, helping your donors get the why.
There may be difficult times ahead, but your organization was founded in order to solve difficult problems. By utilizing the power of your story you can resonate with your audience and be more effective. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just remember: The harder your obstacle is to overcome, the greater story you have to tell. So go tell it!
If you are feeling stuck or looking to increase conversions both in your online and print campaigns, partner with us to get your story out there.