Nonprofit Storytelling in A Digital World - HandsOn Tech Boston


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Description: Digital technologies have fundamentally changed the way people read and consume information.

If your nonprofit is not embracing digital tools to compose a compelling narrative around your cause, your information could be getting lost in the noise.

In this increasingly competitive landscape for donors’ attention and support, getting people to notice and to hear your message can seem impossible.

Email communications, social media, and mobile are all important to understand, but how will these tools really help you connect with your donors and supporters?

Published in: Technology, Education, Business

Nonprofit Storytelling in A Digital World - HandsOn Tech Boston

  1. 1. Julia Campbell President/CEO of J Campbell Social Marketing HandsOn Tech Boston October 17, 2013 #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  2. 2. About Me  I help nonprofits find success online.  I am:  A former one-woman development & marketing department for small, community-based nonprofits.  A current consultant, volunteer and Board member.  A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.  A mom. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  3. 3. Takeaways From Today  Why storytelling is so vital to a successful nonprofit marketing & fundraising strategy  How to use digital tools to tell your nonprofit’s story  How to make your message stand out and cut through the clutter and noise  How to use video-sharing tools to connect with supporters #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  4. 4. Obligatory Seth Godin Reference “The most common style of public speaking, one that’s often used by politicians and is surprisingly common among investment pitches, is based on sentences… The sentence is not a natural building block of public speaking, and it’s tiring, for both the speaker and the audience. It’s hard to maintain any sort of energy in either direction. Building. A. Speech. Around. Words. Is. Even. More. Difficult. Full post at: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  5. 5. Obligatory Seth Godin Reference “The real opportunity is in speaking in paragraphs, or even better, in stories. The storyteller naturally engages our attention, and she matches her emphasis and cadence to the rhythm of the story. Here’s how to know if you’re on the right track: if you stop a story in the middle, the audience will insist you finish it. Isn’t that what you want?” Full post at: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  6. 6. Storytelling Is Not New  First modern public awareness campaign – 1787, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade  Used stories – conditions in the slave trade, “broadsides” (graphics), public speaking, advocacy  Mixed facts and emotional appeals #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  7. 7. Why Storytelling? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  8. 8. Example A: “Any money that you donate will go to Rokia, a seven-yearold girl who lives in Mali in Africa. Rokia is desperately poor and faces a threat of severe hunger, even starvation. Her life will be changed for the better as a result of your financial gift. With your support, and the support of other caring sponsors, Save the Children will work with Rokia's family and other members of the community to help feed and educate her, and provide her with basic medical care.” Full study at: Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  9. 9. Example B: “Food shortages in Malawi are affecting more than three million children. In Zambia, severe rainfall deficits have resulted in a 42% drop in maize production from 2000. As a result, an estimated three million Zambians face hunger. Four million Angolans — one-third of the population — have been forced to flee their homes. More than 11 million people in Ethiopia need immediate food assistance.” Full study at: Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  10. 10. Why Storytelling?  People don’t remember bullet points.  People respond to emotion.  Feelings, not analytical thinking, drive donations. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  11. 11. Why Storytelling?  Stories help you express your mission to the lay person.  Statistics might shock and awe, but they will rarely get people to take action. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  12. 12. What Storytelling Will Not Do #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  13. 13. What Storytelling Will Not Do Fix bad management. Fix a lousy program or service. Replace other marketing strategies. Replace fundraising tactics like direct asks and one-onone meetings. BUT if done well, it will augment all other communication efforts! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  14. 14. How To “Do” Storytelling?  Think of your audience.  How can you tell a story in a way that will resonate with them?  What is important to them?  Resource: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  15. 15. How To “Do” Storytelling?  Stories have a trajectory.  They do not need to be candy-coated and positive – they need to be authentic.  Ideas for stories: This is how we started, this is who we are today, this is where we’re going, this is how we have been challenged along the way #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  16. 16. Mindset Shift  Storytelling requires an entire change of mindset.  Most nonprofit communications are boring, not compelling and easy to ignore.  Why is this? How can we change this? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  17. 17. Don’t Ignore the Data  Stories alone are not enough.  You must be able to back up what you are doing or show that this is a real problem. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  18. 18. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  19. 19. Types of Stories  Value Stories  The core values of your nonprofit  Why you do what you do  What are you passionate about? Reference: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  20. 20. Value Stories  Example – The Robin Hood Foundation   The video starts out immediately with people who have been helped – you immediately connect with them.  Offer “social proof” – Geoffrey Canada; Chairman & CEO Of Goldman Sachs  Efficient, effective – 100% charity  Students proudly saying where they are going to college #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  21. 21. Types of Stories  Creation Stories  The why and the how of your organization  What is the need  Story of the founders  The real WHY you exist Reference: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  22. 22. Creation Stories  Example –Environmental Defense Fund  Started by a small group of passionate conservationists in Long Island.  They wanted to save the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon.  Went to court, got a ban on DDT in 1966. In 1972, they played a large role on a nationwide ban.  They play up the “strong foundation” and grassroots approach which informs their work today. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  23. 23. Types of Stories  “Striving to Improve” Stories  Express resiliency  Show that your org is always trying to improve  Mistakes, lessons learned  Helps other organizations Reference: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  24. 24. Types of Stories  Example – The Denver Foundation  10 Years 10 Stories – Celebrating 10 years of inclusiveness  Stories from the Journey – stories told by the nonprofits awarded grants  Nonprofits discussed what they learned and what they still have to work on.  Focused on their target audience and thought about what would resonate with them. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  25. 25. Stories Should Cover:  The WHY: Your cause and the lives you are changing  The HOW: Your programs and services.  The WHAT: The impact you are having on the world #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  26. 26. Where To Find Them?  Everywhere!  Everyone is responsible! Cannot exist in a silo  Is not just the marketing or development department’s job!!!!  Get on the front lines #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  27. 27. Everyone Has A Story Everyone has a story – it might not be one that you can use, but it might lead you to an idea or person who can help. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  28. 28. Casey Hibbard, Stories That Sell  “Praise” letters – talk with the submitter, collect more details  Ask clients – include a “share your story” page on your website, conduct surveys, ask at live events  Stay positive  Keep it varied – Make A Wish Foundation doesn’t just tell about the people that benefit, they also tell the stories of the wishgranter, the volunteers and their sponsors. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  29. 29. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  30. 30. Bay Area’s Committee on the Shelterless (COTS)  Video of a man whose life was saved by COTS  No multiple takes or tricky editing  He’s talking to an audience, live #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  31. 31. The Lazarex Cancer Foundation  The Bracelet Story – one couple that helps Lazarex through fundraising because the organization helped their son #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  32. 32. Per Scholas  IT professional job training organization – free tech education to unemployed & low-income adults #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  33. 33. Houston Ballet  Their Flickr account provides a backstage pass to their productions. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  34. 34. Conservation International “If it's raining where you are, the ocean played a role. If you drove to work, the seas are absorbing the carbon dioxide from your car. If you ordered seafood for lunch, it may have traveled halfway around the world to land on your plate. No matter where you live on Earth, what you do affects the ocean — and what happens to the ocean affects you.” #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  35. 35. Mine The Gold “Think of the story itself as gold. You mine the gold, capture the story. Then you bring it back to your office and you need to pound that gold into different shapes and sizes depending on whom you’re talking to, or also where you’re telling it.” ~ Andy Goodman #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  36. 36. Getting Started Have a system.  Collecting stories and story ideas.  Capture and save your stories – Story Bank  Dropbox, Google Docs, Basecamp  Whatever you use – make sure it is accessible  Social Media Committee – story witnesses  Figure out a way to start thinking through this lensiPhones, tablets, anyone can be a reporter #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  37. 37. Getting Started Define goals.  What are your priorities?  Program development & fundraising – structure around those stories  Getting on social media is not a strategy! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  38. 38. Getting Started Empower others.  You cannot do it alone. Period.  Hold a staff meeting to train on storytelling.  Change the culture – have an email listserv or start staff meetings with an exchange of stories. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  39. 39. Think Like A Journalist You are a media organization. You need to be writers, publishers, photographers, videographers It’s not about your organization, it’s about what you are doing in terms of impacting the world. Use different platforms depending. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  40. 40. Channels for Storytelling  Website  Blogs  Email newsletters  Publications  Social media  Public speaking, community education  User-generated – how can you encourage your online community to share their stories? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  41. 41. Go Multichannel Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Be where your supporters are, not where you want them to be. Be consistent in your brand and in your story – you don’t have to tell the exact same story across channels. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  42. 42. Use Video  Think about stories that are shareable.  Don’t say too many things!!! Simple is better.  1-2 minutes, lose viewers every 10-20 seconds  How will you visually tell your story?  Who will guide the narrative? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  43. 43. Use Video  Beginning – What’s at stake? The before (“I was homeless”)  Middle – What has changed?  End – What does the future look like?  Call to Action  What will the viewer be compelled to do? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  44. 44. “Break the Fourth Wall”  Create a candid “making of” video for a fundraising, advocacy or awareness campaign you are launching.  Take a tip from Wikipedia and live broadcast the results of your fundraising campaigns and the decisions you are making based on those results. Resource: Alia McKee, Sea Change Strategies, #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  45. 45. “Break the Fourth Wall”  Develop a “Why I Do This Work” video series that shows why your staff have dedicated their lives the cause.  Create a fun photo board of staff desks — including those in both exotic and not-so-exotic locations. The idea is to push beyond traditional direct marketing techniques to show a more relatable, identifiable you. Resource: Alia McKee, Sea Change Strategies, #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  46. 46. Promote Your Story  Using influencers  Using Online Brand Ambassadors  Partnership with other organizations, compan ies, businesses – “Brandscaping”  Bloggers  Celebrities #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  47. 47. What Makes Stories Memorable? From “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath 1) SIMPLE 2) Unexpected 3) Concrete 4) Credible 5) Emotional #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  48. 48. Common Mistakes  Using only data. Facts are not a story!  No reason for the story – it’s not clearly stated in the beginning.  No context.  No protagonist. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  49. 49. Common Mistakes  Thinking that slick video production = great story.  Silo-ing the storytellers.  Thinking it’s a one time deal. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  50. 50. In Conclusion…  For nonprofits especially, storytelling through pictures and videos is KEY to communicating your mission! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  51. 51. In Conclusion…  Always about the WHY – not the what you do or how you do it.  Be authentic.  Be credible.  Get over your fear.  Figure out ways to measure your success. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  52. 52. Resources  The Starter Guide to Nonprofit Video Storytelling (free      download): Nonprofit Storytelling for Crowdfunding & Online Fundraising: DoGooder Awards: TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge: SocialBrite: Nancy Schwartz – Getting Attention: #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos
  53. 53. Questions? Feedback?  Tweet questions or post them on my Facebook Wall:  @JuliaCSocial #npstory @HandsOnTechBos    Thank you! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @handsontechbos