The Power of Storytelling in Nonprofit Cause Marketing

Via @DonorPro

Posted by Elicia Tedrow

The Power of Storytelling in Nonprofit Cause Marketing

One of the keys to inspiring and connecting with your donor base is simply to tell a good story. Fifty-six percent of nonprofit supporters say that compelling storytelling is what motivates them to take action on behalf of an organization. However, good storytelling-the kind that influences the audience’s behaviors or actions is hard to accomplish. According to a study of nonprofit marketing professionals, 66% of respondents struggle with and are launching initiatives for becoming better storytellers.

A nonprofit’s story is the driving force behind its cause. It is one of the first things that new and potential donors learn about an organization, which makes it key to donor acquisition. It is also what keeps donors and other constituents interested and involved. With so many elements relying on an effective and engaging story, nonprofits that lack one could be severely limiting their success. Analyze how powerful your cause marketing stories are and ways that you can improve them with these tips. 

Be compelling, but be honest.

Organizations should never fabricate or skew their story to engage supporters. Individuals value a transparent story and will likely detect a bogus one. Nonprofits can incorporate statistics into their stories to reinforce their authenticity, but should keep the focus on personal anecdote. Personal anecdotes of nonprofit beneficiaries can establish an emotional connection with viewers.

Look for new and creative ways to present your story.

The story is important, but how you tell it is even more crucial. If you are using digital storytelling, how the content is presented can affect its success. For instance, telling a story through video is becoming increasingly popular, because more people are consuming video content than ever before. Also, studies have shown that video grabs the attention of viewers, with 80% of online viewers watching a video in its entirety compared to 20% reading content in its entirety. However, it is important to choose the best platforms to reach your target audiences too. The highest consumers of online video are 18-34 year olds, so if your audience is outside of that range, it may also be viable to explore other methods like newsletters or email marketing.

Combine stories with data. 

So you crafted and delivered the perfect story, now what? With the age of big data and analytics, it is more possible than ever to track how your audience perceived it. For instance, if the story was in the form of a blog, how long did users stay on the page? If it was a video, did they watch it in its entirety? Using these metrics, nonprofits can hone and improve the effectiveness of their storytelling.

Encourage others to share your story.

If people listen to your story, that’s great. However, if people listen to your story and also are driven to share it with others, that’s when you know that it is a success. Empower those that listen to your story by telling them how their support helps and suggest other ways that they can support your organization.

As more and more nonprofits increase their use of data and technology to aid in fundraising campaigns and donor retention, the power of a good story shouldn’t get lost in the mix. Storytelling may only one part of a larger integrated fundraising strategy however, it sets the foundation for many of the other parts.



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