Telling and listening to stories is what we humans do. The story could be about our morning commute or about three Russian brothers wrestling with their rocky relationships after the murder of their cantankerous father. But what makes either of those stories compelling is the opportunity for story teller to touch the experiences, expectations, and aspirations of the audience.
Nonprofits tell stories as a means to call people to action. Though story-telling might be as natural as our desire for food, telling a compelling story requires planning and practice. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is popularly attributed with the statement, “The death of one is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” The fact is, though, nonprofits and charities have to find ways to turn the statistics of their causes into meaningful human stories.A wonderful guide to storytelling has recently been released by Colin Holtz and Steve Daignault for . The offers excellent and clear advice on how to create stories that put the focus on the human element and make the readers engaged in your organization’s calls-to-action.
To understand the step-by-step process they recommend to develop stories that engage donors and volunteers, please read the guide. We were especially drawn to the distinctions between Colin’s and Steve’s distinctions between “Stories that Explain” and “Stories that Compel” (and how the story types should work as a team).
Explaining stories show, instead of tell. They take dry facts and assertions and statistics and wonky policy and give them life, building a human connection. They aren’t always even “stories” in the classical sense, they just make use of the conversational language, vivid detail, tension, and resolution that give stories power. …
The compelling donor-centric story offers readers an opportunity to say something about what kind of person they are, and what groups they are part of. Are they generous? Kind? Are they a conservationist, or a civil-rights crusader? Or just one of a hundred neighbors whose commitment saved a local library? People give because doing so offers them a chance to write their own story – and join in a shared story.
Reconsider the stories your organization is telling, and consider how to tailor those stories to engage constituents and donors and volunteers in what they do, not what your organization does.includes some great examples of how to turn a description into a story, to help you with models on what you can do next to drive home the opportunity to make the world a slightly better place.