A Great Nonprofit Storyteller

In part three of this series on how to become a great nonprofit storyteller, I talk about the practical skills you need to tell an effective story. Read parts one and two.

In part one of this series, I talked about figuring out your goals and objectives, developing your brand and tone, and choosing your audience. In part two, I touched on the storytelling elements that will inspire your audience and encourage them to take a desired action. 

In this post, I’m going to talk about what you need to do next: how to finalize and deliver your story.   

Edit your story. 

Once you create your story, you need to edit it. 

When you think of editing, you likely think about checking for grammatical errors and typos—which is an important part of this process! However, you should be reading your story—in your head and aloud—for other things

For example, are there any details that you find are slowing down the pace? If so, consider cutting those. Are there holes in the story where you need to find examples of how you’re carrying out your mission? If so, go back and add them to the story.  

When you read the story aloud, ask your coworkers and maybe even some volunteers to listen to it and provide feedback. Then ask them if the story would inspire them to take actions that help you reach your short and long-term goals. 

Determine the best medium through which to tell your story. 

Now is the time to figure out how to package your story for your audience. There are several ways you can tell it. Which medium will you use? 

You can choose from: 

  • Written media: email, social media, website, blog posts, newspapers, etc.
  • Visual media: photographs, videos, etc.
  • Auditory media: podcasts, radio, live events, etc.  

When determining the medium through which you’ll share your story, take into consideration where and how your audience consumes content. Then base your decision on that. 

Do they want a written appeal in the mail? Do they prefer video content? Do they send your emails to spam? 

And remember: You can repackage the story to work for more than one medium! 

Decide when to share your story. 

You want to share the right message at the right time. In order to do that, look at your story and ask yourself questions like:

  • Does this story make sense to tell at a certain time of year (end-of-year giving season, etc.)?
  • Is there a timely aspect to this story? Does it need to be shared on a certain holiday or awareness day? 
  • Is this story evergreen? Can I share it throughout the year?

Once you have a timeline, build it into your overall communications and marketing plan so everyone is on the same page and can help you prepare to share the story.

Measure how successful your story is.

Measuring how your audience responds to your story will help you know which ones are landing with your audience and which ones you might need to restructure in order to meet your goals.

What you measure will depend on your goals. For example, you might look at: 

  • Engagement. Look at your email open rates, social media interactions, and other data points. Did your engagement rate improve? 
  • Donations. If the desired action you want your audience to take is to donate to your mission, track the number of donations you receive.
  • Event ticket purchases. Do you want to sell tickets to an upcoming event? If so, track the number of tickets you sell. 
  • Volunteer sign ups. If the desired action you want your audience to take is to sign up to volunteer for your nonprofit, track the number of new volunteers you add to your database. 

When measuring the success of your story, think about if it’s helping you serve both your short and long-term goals. If you don’t think the stories are moving you toward your goals, go back to the beginning and develop a new way of telling your stories. 

I hope these posts will help you develop the best stories possible and motivate your audience to work with you and move your mission forward.

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez

Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at [email protected]