Capturing Your Organization's Stories

Lori Halley 07 October 2011 0 comments

We’re always hearing that stories can be effective  in engaging donors or empowering volunteers.  But it can be challenging to find ways of collecting or capturing stories, especially if your organization relies on a network of volunteers.

So I was intrigued when I saw that one of the “Movie Monday” videos (from 501 Videos) focused on collecting and sharing stories.  In the short video, Zan McColloch-Lussier from Mixtape Communications, offers some simple, practical tips to help non-profit communicators gather stories from folks in the field.

He reminds us that social media has changed the opportunities for and immediacy of telling our organization’s stories. We no longer need to rely on monthly or quarterly newsletters or annual reports to demonstrate the powerful work being done - it can be done in a tweet, a short video or a quick post on your website. This makes it all the more important to capture all of the potential stories out there and then determine where/how they can be re-packaged and conveyed to your target audience(s).

For ideas on how to “get stories while they’re fresh and put them in context” check out the video on the Movie Monday's For Fundraising Professionals  (episode #151): here.

Just Getting Started With Storytelling?

If you or your organization are new to using storytelling to engage donors, members or volunteers, you may want to check out a recent CauseVox blog post,  How to Get Started in Storytelling for Fundraising, that includes an interview with Cara Jones, Founder of Storytellers for Good. In the post, she offers her top three tips for nonprofit storytelling:

1) Aim for the heart.
Again, people remember what they feel. When you’re trying to figure out which of your stories accomplish this, think about the ones that give your heart that little zingy feeling, bring a tear to your eye, or make you laugh. Humor evokes some of the most powerful of all emotions.

2) Find a compelling character to wrap the story around.
As mentioned in our favorite examples, if you’re telling a story about a broad issue, find someone to personalize it.

3) Remember structure and length.
Tell a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Remember to structure your story in a way that feels like it comes to resolution/completion. If you can, build a surprise in for added impact. Also, in video, remember length. 1-2 minutes is ideal for online, 3-5 minutes for events. Modern attention spans don’t support much beyond that.

How is your organization using stories to engage donors, members or volunteers?  Share some of your powerful stories in the comments below.

Read more:

You might also want to check out this Wild Apricot blog post:

Photo credit: Sir Gavahad's Flickr Photostream


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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 07 October 2011 at 9:24 AM

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