In Andy Goodman’s Q&A session with The Bridgespan Group, he shares why storytelling is essential for nonprofits to effectively fundraise and increase awareness. Mr. Goodman is a nationally recognized author, speaker and consultant in the field of public interest communications. The Bridgespan Group is a nonprofit dedicated to building a better world by strengthening the ability of mission-driven organizations and philanthropists to achieve breakthrough results in addressing society’s most important challenges and opportunities.
Why Nonprofits Need to Be Storytellers
By Andy Goodman | The Bridgespan Group
In this Q&A, Goodman discusses the importance of storytelling for nonprofits and how nonprofits and their leaders and staff can approach blending powerful stories with data to advance their organizations’ missions.
Q: Nonprofits need to influence behavior change across many different stakeholders. How can storytelling help them do this effectively?
Andy Goodman: The key words here are “influence behavior.” Think about the way that your mind works. We have stories in our brains about how the world works. And they act like filters. They act like software. The stories tell us what facts to accept and what facts to reject…
Storytelling is not just for children. Stories are the oldest form of entertainment, education, and means of passing on lessons in morality and cultural values to shape the foundation of a community. They bridge knowledge and understanding in a way that connects people.
Seems pretty simple when you put it that way. So why is it so hard to effectively share your organization’s stories?
In the Q&A session, Andy Goodman talks about how you can grab peoples’ attention and influence them to become supporters and donors using the power of storytelling. Tell them the story of your organization. Not just about WHAT you do, either. The real story of your organization, and the one that will compel people to help you, is the one about HOW you’re making changes and how those changes affect the world. Sure, you can throw boring data and statistics around all day, but nobody will care or remember it in the end. You first need to capture their interest, and a good story will do this for you, then you can follow your narrative with the numbers and facts that support the story you are telling — the one-two punch you need for a winning combination.
Telling the story of your organization
Although storytelling is an ancient art and form of communication, you can take advantage of technological advances to share your organization’s story with a very wide audience in a very short amount of time. Definitely take Goodman’s suggestions and compile and categorize a list stories for and about your nonprofit that you can then have on hand for different occasions, purposes and target demographics.
Stories that include your org’s core values, why (and how) you got started and the issues you are trying to bring attention to or solve, are a great place to begin. Show people what your cause does. 63% of donors want to know where their support is going before they contribute. Record industry leaders, employees, volunteers and especially beneficiaries of your cause, telling their stories and sharing their experiences with your organization and the effect it has had in their lives. These recordings will allow you to capture their journey and your cause in action.
Video makes huge impact and can enhance all of your efforts. Easily share your videos during live fundraising events, calls-to-action, on social media, within your website and as part of a text messaging campaign. You could even include a short video specific to a fundraising event or project in a text to donate campaign as a Thank You to your donors.
Make storytelling an integral part of your campaigns to connect to your donors and inspire them to support your organization for years to come.