Non-Profit Storytelling 2023 - Part 1: Who to Ask
Non-profit storytelling is an important strategy to implement to increase donations, attract volunteers, and engage community members to your organization. In part 1 of this series, we discuss who to ask for stories and how it benefits your organization.
As a non-profit, collecting stories from a variety of stakeholders who play a role in your organization is key. Not only do stories give outsiders an inside look at what goes on behind-the-scenes, but it also showcases how you fulfill your mission and live true to your values.
In the article, “Storytelling for Nonprofits: 45 Powerful Examples & Tips,” from grant platform Instrumental, emphasis of the story is placed “on the journey of a ‘main character’ - someone or something that has been impacted by your cause and your organization” (Instrumentl).
Each group of stakeholders' - or main characters’ - story contributions shines a light on different angles of your organization. Each angle is helpful in its own way, depending on your yearly goals.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of who you can ask for stories and why:
- Donors (Current and Past): These are the individuals, foundations, or corporations that provide financial support to your nonprofit. Donors contribute funds, resources, and/or in-house support and have pride in your work and impact. They are also motivated by inspiring others to donate. Asking this group of stakeholders for their story makes them feel included, honored, and valued as donors.
- Beneficiaries or Clients: These are the individuals or communities that directly benefit from your services, programs, or initiatives. They are the primary reason for your existence and often have firsthand experience with your team. These stories capture the experience of the client and are oftentimes emotional - pulling at the heartstrings of current and future donors. For certain nonprofits, there may be privacy concerns with asking these folks for stories - but that doesn’t apply to every organization.
- Volunteers (Current and Past): These are the people who selflessly offer their time, skills, and expertise to support your nonprofit's mission. They contribute to various aspects of the organization, such as program delivery, administration, event planning, and fundraising. Asking them for stories particularly can be useful for retaining current volunteers and recruiting new ones.
- Ambassadors: Ambassadors are your nonprofit’s cheerleaders and rockstars. They set examples for the rest of your team and are eager to promote all of the good that goes on within the organization. Asking ambassadors for stories is a great way to learn why they’re involved and capture what drives them to stay engaged.
- Board of Directors (Current and Past): Board members provide oversight, make key decisions, and ensure that your organization operates in accordance with its mission. They have unique insights into your brand and all the work that goes on behind-the-scenes. Asking your Board of Directors for stories highlights their voice and role within the organization and shows your appreciation for their involvement.
- Staff and Management: These are the employees and management team who carry out the day-to-day operations, implement programs, and manage finances to achieve the organization's objectives. Your organization would be nothing without these team members and as essential assets, their stories should not be overlooked.
- Partners and Collaborators: These are other organizations, businesses, or institutions that collaborate with you to achieve common goals or deliver joint initiatives that can provide powerful stories highlighting why they’re involved. As a partner, they pride themselves on helping your organization thrive and spread awareness around your work in the community.
- Community and Society: These stakeholders may include local residents, advocacy groups, professional networks, media outlets, and other entities who have been positively impacted by your nonprofit's activities and outcomes. Since they may not expect to be asked for a story, including their voice shows you care and want to hear their thoughts on how your organization has helped them or others in the surrounding area.
- Leadership: It’s so important to get leadership on board. Getting a story from ahead of your organization puts emphasis on your story-seeking efforts and can start a chain reaction within your organization to encourage others to share too.
As you can see, as a nonprofit, you have a wide net of storytellers to choose from to ask for content. Other important factors in determining who to ask includes when to ask and how you plan on using stories to grow. We’ll dive deeper into these topics in the coming blog posts. Stay tuned for Part 2!
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