Nonprofit Storytelling In A Digital World


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These are the slides from a webinar that I did with Giftworks Fundraising Software.

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?

In this free webinar we will cover:

· How to use digital tools to tell your nonprofit 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

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Nonprofit Storytelling In A Digital World

  1. 1. Julia Campbell President/CEO of J Campbell Social Marketing GiftWorks September 26, 2013 #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  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 @giftworks
  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 @giftworks
  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. 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: stories.html #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  5. 5. Storytelling Is Not New #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks  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
  6. 6. Why Storytelling? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  7. 7. Why Storytelling?  People don’t remember bullet points.  People respond to emotion.  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 @giftworks
  8. 8. 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-on- one meetings. BUT if done well, it will augment all other communication efforts! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  9. 9. 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?  Stories have a trajectory – they are not all candy-coated and positive.  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 @giftworks
  10. 10. Change Your Mindset  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 @giftworks
  11. 11. Include 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 @giftworks
  12. 12. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  13. 13. Types of Stories  Value Stories  The core values of your nonprofit  Why you do what you do  What are you passionate about? #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks Reference:
  14. 14. 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 @giftworks
  15. 15. 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 #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks Reference:
  16. 16. 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 @giftworks
  17. 17. Types of Stories  “Striving to Improve” Stories  Express resiliency  Show that your org is always trying to improve  Mistakes, lessons learned  Helps other organizations #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks Reference:
  18. 18. 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 @giftworks
  19. 19. 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 @giftworks
  20. 20. 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 @giftworks
  21. 21. 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 @giftworks
  22. 22. 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 wish-granter, the volunteers and their sponsors. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  23. 23. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  24. 24. 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 @giftworks
  25. 25. The Lazarex Cancer Foundation  The Bracelet Story – one couple that helps Lazarex through fundraising because the organization helped their son #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  26. 26. Per Scholas  IT professional job training organization – free tech education to unemployed & low-income adults #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  27. 27. Houston Ballet  Their Flickr account provides a backstage pass to their productions. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  28. 28. 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 @giftworks
  29. 29. 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 @giftworks
  30. 30. 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 @giftworks
  31. 31. 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 @giftworks
  32. 32. 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 @giftworks
  33. 33. 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 @giftworks
  34. 34. 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 @giftworks
  35. 35. 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 @giftworks
  36. 36. 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 @giftworks
  37. 37. 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 @giftworks
  38. 38. 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.  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, break-fourth-wall-unpredictably/ #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  39. 39. Promote Your Story  Using influencers  Using Online Brand Ambassadors  Partnership with other organizations, companies, businesses – “Brandscaping”  Bloggers  Celebrities #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  40. 40. 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 @giftworks
  41. 41. 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 @giftworks
  42. 42. Common Mistakes  Thinking that slick video production = great story.  Silo-ing the storytellers.  Thinking it’s a one time deal. #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  43. 43. In Conclusion…  For nonprofits especially, storytelling through pictures and videos is KEY to communicating your mission! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  44. 44. 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 @giftworks
  45. 45. Resources  The Starter Guide to Nonprofit Video Storytelling (free download):  Nonprofit Storytelling for Crowdfunding & Online Fundraising:  DoGooder Awards:  TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge: initiatives/techsoup-digital-storytelling  SocialBrite:  Nancy Schwartz – Getting Attention: fail/ #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks
  46. 46. Questions? Feedback?  Tweet questions or post them on my Facebook Wall:  @JuliaCSocial #npstory @GiftWorks   Thank you! #npstory @JuliaCSocial @giftworks