You’ll have several elements and steps to track, such as:
- Who you’re featuring
- The key message or focus of each story
- The people you need to speak with
- Their contact information
- Whether or not you’ve reached out to arrange interviews
- The dates of the interviews
- The status of each story in development
Depending on your plans for publication, you might also need to track a number of steps in the production process.
I find it very helpful to get as organized as possible at the outset. Creating a home for all of these details (somewhere other than in my head) frees up my mental energy for the creative process. You might also want or need to share these details with others who have a role or interest in your story creation, including your manager, colleagues, co-creators or suppliers.
So, to help with your story writing project management, I have a new template to share with you: my story writing project tracker.
Template story writing project tracker for nonprofits
I’ve set up this template to help you track:
- Individuals or organizations you’ll be featuring: For example, volunteers, donors, program participants, corporate supporters, partner agencies, etc.
- People you’ll need to speak with (if different from above): If you’re featuring an organization, the specific person or people you’ll interview for each story and their roles.
- Contact information: Make a note of the email address you need for outreach. Once you’ve successfully booked an interview, record the individual’s phone number, Skype handle or other way you’ll reach them. I also find it helpful to note whether I’ll be calling them or if they’d prefer to initiate the call.
- Request sent: Once you start your outreach (here’s a template for writing your outreach emails), make a record of the requests you’ve sent, whether or not you’ve heard back from each person and if necessary, the dates on which you sent additional follow-ups.
- Your interviews: Indicate the date and time you end up booking for your interview. But remember, this tracking is in addition to the booking you make on your actual calendar!
- Copy status: Has the story been drafted? Reviewed (and by whom)? Has it been approved and finalized?
- Other production details: For those responsible for publication from beginning to end, I’ve included a field to track other production steps like photography, translation, design and printing.
Here’s a screen capture of what the tracker might look like when in use.
This tracker works if your process is similar to mine; with a phone or Skype interview as the basis for your story development. If that’s your approach, here are some interview questions you can use in your calls:
- Case study interview questions for nonprofit organizations
- Writing donor and volunteer profiles: the interview
Would this story writing tracker help you? Here’s the link access the template:
- For use online in Google Drive/Sheets, go to File > Make a copy
- To download and use offline in Excel, Numbers or other spreadsheet programs, go to File > Download as
Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll have your own copy to customize and use to track story writing at your organization.
What story creation steps do you need to track?
Is anything missing from my tracker? Of course, you can and should customize the template according to your specific needs. But if there are additions that you think would benefit other nonprofit communicators using this template, please share in the comments below so I can improve it!