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Creating A Story Bank: How To Find, Store, And Share Good Stories

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Storytelling is one of the most effective and important forms of communication for nonprofits. It helps connect the audience to the mission in a personal and tangible way. Creating a story bank for your organization will ensure you and your team will always have powerful stories to draw from and share.

Stories are all around us. As you begin to master the skill of storytelling, you will learn where to look for them. Take some time and brainstorm a list of inspiring individuals or powerful moments from within your organization. Who has the greatest transformation stories? What specific moments can you recall in which your organization put a smile on someone’s face or offered someone a much-needed sigh of relief? Think of stories that are power-packed with emotion that will stir the soul of your audience.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to share their stories. The worst thing someone can say is no. In fact, you may be surprised at how many people will gladly open up about their experiences. In some cases, you may be the only person who ever really asked someone about their journey and made them feel important.

Decide whose perspective you would like to include when creating a story bank.

  • Donors
  • Beneficiaries
  • Volunteers
  • Staff
  • Etc…

Then, solicit the stories. Ask these people in-person or via email, Facebook post, or even a phone call (I know, right?!) if they would be willing to share their back-story and their experience with your organization. You might be surprised how many stories you are able to collect in a short time by outsourcing them. In fact, this approach can save you and your organization a lot of time because the story has literally written itself!

Sometimes being able to share a person’s story in their own words in the best way to communicate your message. Having multiple perspectives will also help your organization have added credibility and depth. Remember, stories can be written, audio recorded or videoed – get creative!

PRO TIP: Make sure to always get written consent if you are going to share someone’s words or photos of them.

A common concern is how to share stories if your organization serves a population that needs to remain anonymous due to health, safety or privacy reasons. You can always collect a true story then change the name and a few details to help conceal a person’s identity. Communicating that you did so in order to protect those you serve will also help your audience trust your organization and the care you provide.

So, who do you know that you could ask for a story?

Once you have collected several stories, file them! Every good storyteller needs a collection of stories they can reference for various situations.

  • a board meeting
  • a donor coffee meeting
  • a webinar
  • a speaking engagement
  • a fundraising event
  • a newsletter

Regardless of how you plan to share your stories, starting to physically store them will be very helpful. Whether you work in a smaller organization or a larger organization, a story bank can help your team stay on the same page and on brand.

There are several ways to file your stories. You can store them on your computer or in a physical file but either way it is suggested to determine a system by which you want to categorize your stories.

There are several options for filing your stories

  • Catalog your stories by length.
  • File your stories based on audience and where they will be shared.
  • Organize your stories based on who they are about. (I.e. Who your organization serves, volunteers, staff, family members, etc.)
  • Store your stories based on theme.

Writing down and storing your stories also helps you reference them later to ensure you maintain their integrity. Trying to rely on memory when sharing stories can result in fudged facts and false recollection. Having something tangible to refer to helps us recall things correctly. Don’t be afraid to share the same stories multiple times.

Once you have your stories filed, you are ready to start using the stories face-to-face, online, and at meetings or events. Stories can (and should) be shared in any setting. Doing so will help your audience, no matter the size, connect with you and become inspired by the amazing work you do.

Happy story-banking!

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