Storytelling inspiration file part 2: WAYS nonprofits are using stories

May 1, 2018

In March, I pulled together a blog post exploring the reasons why nonprofit communicators tell stories. To do this, I asked a group of 11 different nonprofit communicators to share the purpose of the stories they create and share.

The result was a useful “inspiration” file that can help you to tie your stories back to your organization’s communications objectives. If you haven’t already, check out the article, Storytelling inspiration file: 11 different reasons nonprofits are using stories.

Storytelling inspiration file part 2: WAYS nonprofits are using stories #NPMC Click To Tweet

HOW you can incorporate stories into your nonprofit’s communications: examples

Some of the communicators I consulted also told me about the specific ways they are integrating stories into their communications. For example, Suzanne Hallsworth, Chief Development Officer at the Oakville Hospital Foundation said this:

“For the past several years our Foundation has chosen one exceptional and life-changing patient experience and will tell and retell this story throughout the year to donors across multiple platforms. It often starts with a direct mail appeal written in the voice of the patient. We then share the story on social media with photos to add more personal details to the story.

Months later we revisit this patient story to get an update on their progress. This is usually done in a video, or we have the patient speak at an event. ‎We find in many cases we are reaching different audiences with the same story and for those donors that have heard the story before, they have a stronger connection to it.”

Sherry Calder, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications at Diabetes Canada, explained:

“Governments often respond to evidence, but it is the experiences and stories that get their attention. Capturing these voices, whether it is through written testimonials in our latest reports or media releases, event presentations or videos, help elected officials understand the need to change or enhance policies such as access to medications or new treatments.”

And here’s what Alex Kruger, Manager, Marketing and Brand said about how Pathways to Education Canada uses stories:

“Authentic storytelling is one of the best ways to demonstrate the impact of our work. We include personal stories from Pathways to Education students, alumni, community partners, volunteers, and donors in all of our major collateral materials. Storytelling also plays a lead role in our social media activity to help connect with our supporters where they already spend their time.

But one of the most engaging methods of storytelling at Pathways to Education remains face-to-face conversations, and we are grateful for alumni who give back to Pathways to Education by sharing their stories in-person at events and one-on-one meetings, on panels, and with media as Pathways leaders and spokespeople.”

We have quite a diverse set of story use examples within just these three responses, and I wanted to share them with you.


Idea file: 20 ways you can use stories in your nonprofit communications

To help take what these communicators have shared and turn it into another “idea file” you can use, I extracted the HOW details from what they said to create this list of ways and places you can use stories:

  • Direct mail
  • Social media
  • Reports
  • Media releases
  • Mat stories
  • Other media relations
  • Presentations
  • Panels
  • Collateral materials
  • Events
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Spokesperson program

Keep in mind, the stories – or elements of each story – can be delivered in person, in written form or as photos, video or audio content. And I would add the following to the list:

  • Blog
  • Print newsletter
  • Email updates
  • Annual report
  • Website
  • Executive/other leaders’ speeches
  • Sponsorship kits
  • Podcasts

You can see that there are many ways storytelling can boost your nonprofit’s message. It’s not about another thing to do, but about compelling content that can improve the quality and impact of your communications.

Now that you’ve looked at this list, what would you add? What’s missing? I’m sure there are many more ways to use stories, so please feel free to share in the blog post comments.

And of course, if you need help writing your nonprofit’s stories, remember that this is a service that I offer. Check out my Storytelling Simplified Service and then set up a free consultation to talk about what you want to accomplish through storytelling.

Incorporating stories: instead of 'another thing to do,' think of it as a way to improve the quality and impact of your content. #NPMC Click To Tweet

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