Nonprofit Storytelling: Get Your Advocates Talking

nonprofit storytelling

Nonprofit Storytelling Ups the Emotion and Increases Engagement

Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool, but it takes a significant amount of work and often seems to fall off the radar when push comes to shove. I love issue advocacy, full stop. I relish the opportunity to dig into the ins and outs of policies and programs, Most of my nonprofit clients demonstrate a similar love. Most people, however, do not get their jollies from these sorts of details, and those are the people we need in our corner if we’re going to make real changes.

Nonprofit Storytelling is an essential piece of the puzzle because it helps to move all those pesky details out of the realm of the abstract and answers the simple question: “What does this mean for me, for my family, and my community?” 

Here are five simple ways to cultivate a nonprofit storytelling library that will do some long-term heavy lifting for your issue advocacy efforts.

1. Mine your events for storytellers

Your in-person events are likely to have some of your staunchest supporters in attendance. Take the time to ask them why they’re attending – they may have a compelling story that they’re willing to share with a wider audience. And of course, if they’re open to it, get a photo of them that you can pair with their story (don’t forget to bring photo releases to events!).

2. Stay in touch with your advocates

People don’t like to feel like you only come to them when you need something. Make sure your prospective storytellers feel like they’re a part of your efforts, not a tool that you use and discard.

3. Invest in tools that will help you to gather stories

There is a whole host of digital tools out there that allow people to easily create video testimonials and other forms of content that are emotionally connective and personal (some of which are featured in our 100 Best Campaign Tools post).

4. Train and support your storytellers

Staying on message is an important part of any advocacy effort. Nonprofit storytelling is only as powerful as your storytellers, so make sure they have access to the resources and support they need to help them stay on track and hammer their message home.

5. Emphasize diversity

Advocacy efforts are at their strongest when they can count supporters from all walks of life. As you recruit storytellers, put in the work to make sure that you’re listening to and actively engaging with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives.

Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool, but it’s not a project you’re going to complete overnight. Give yourself the time to do it right, and you won’t be sorry.

Want to go beyond nonprofit storytelling and learn more about navigating the world of advocacy for nonprofits? Check out our ebook here

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