How To Use Storytelling to Promote Your Cause
Once upon a time there were no satellites circling the earth, connecting people from all four corners to each other and every byte of information ever created. There was no cellphones transmitting across time zones and no televisions lighting up living rooms with everyday drama and culture. Once upon a time there were no libraries, no cinemas and no wifi cafes. All human culture and communication, was woven into a myriad intricate myths and legends, truth telling and tall tales.
This, the ancient practice of storytelling, is still the single most powerful tool of communication and influence today.
Let’s open the chapter on the power and infinite potential of storytelling and how your NPO can harness this practice to connect with supporters and promote your cause.
The Benefits of Storytelling
If you truly want people to support your NPO, you have to appeal to their hearts and not to their heads. In a study conducted by Deborah Small, researchers found people more likely to donate towards an identifiable victim than towards a statistical victim. As Small says:
“It’s hard for humans to generate feelings toward statistics.”
As an example, most people will feel they are truly making a tangible difference if they donate money to a 7 year old Malawian girl named Rokia, than to give the same amount of money to help 3 million children fighting starvation in Malawi. The money goes to the same cause, but after being told a story of Rokia, her family, and her daily struggles, the deepest of human emotions – empathy – sparks inside.
Once people empathise with your NPO, your mission, your community and the good work you are doing, they become part of the bigger picture and feel connected to the cause. Creating a storytelling culture can spread awareness of your mission, increase donations, encourage engagement between your NPO and your supporters, and start an open conversation of story sharing across social media.
Here’s 4 simple ways to bring more storytelling into your NPO practice.
Storytelling for NPOs
1. Portray people as humans, not statistics
Rather than appealing to sponsors’ heads with harrowing statistics and predictions, appeal to their hearts with stories of people-specific struggles and accomplishments. Portray your cause in a relatable, humanised way using photos and real-life accounts. And don’t forget to put your team’s faces out there too. Create a team page on your website with photos, personality quips and a clear story of who you are and why you do what you do.
2. Share success stories
Understandably, donors want to know where their money goes. Their first donation is the start of their narrative with you. Keep their support going by sharing stories of how their funds have been used. Use your blog and your social media channels to tell supporters just how many computers their money bought, how many hot meals were made or how many children (and who) they’ve helped keep in school.
Read these success stories for some inspiration.
3. Use multi-platforms to tell stories
In in today’s digitalised age, we have many storytelling mouth pieces to choose from. Create videos and share them on YouTube or Vimeo, upload podcasts onto your website, break stories into bite-sized chunks and keep followers intrigued on Twitter and Facebook, or use Medium to present your story to a well versed community.
You don’t have to wait until a story is finished to share it on your platforms. Document events as they are happening and share content from projects in progress to get supporters involved and weave the story with you.
4. Turn donors into advocates
You needn’t tell your story alone. Use e-mail campaigns to engage supporters who seldom visit your website. Create a series of stories about the good work you are doing and the people you are helping and include a call to action for readers to join in the campaign. Rather than always asking directly for donations, ask readers to share your stories on their social media channels or to forward them to people who might want to get involved. Give your supporters the chance tell your story for you and get a conversation going.
Let Brownie Points be an advocate for you! Send us your story and we’ll share it free of charge as part of our Mandela Day marketing campaign.
And to end off, here’s a a little inspiration on just how powerful a single story can be.