Now that you are getting ready to market your non-profit’s branding and mission- think of yourself as the storyteller! Stories communicate to your donors and volunteers about their impact on the community, and that’s useful when it comes to grant-writing, fundraising, and increasing recognition to keep your organization successful.
Your marketing needs success stories. Your supporters need to feel they have a voice in your mission, and stories lead to successful marketing campaigns for your branding. That is the power of storytelling.
RESEARCH YOUR AUDIENCE
Finding your target audience rather than marketing to everyone is critical when it comes to saving you time, effort, and funding. Do your research on what matters to your target audience. Find out who is the target audience and understand their interests and needs. Listen to your audience. You can accomplish this through social media and forums. What do they want to see? What would capture their attention? Finding out what matters to your audience will be the key to marketing what you have to offer.
DATA ONLY IS NOT ENOUGH
People remember stories that impact their awareness. People naturally remember stories and share them with their communities.
There is so much information in the news, social media, and everywhere you go. How can the stories capture our attention in all the news feeds out there? People care about their community’s stories more than statistics alone. Consider how to connect to your audience on an emotional level.
Choose the problem to solve in your first campaign. Consider what the main story is and then break down to additional stories to push out later within the campaign’s time frame. Plan your first marketing campaign to last three months and create new campaigns as time goes on with new stories and actions to solve each problem one at a time.
Tip: Gather as many stories as you can of your non-profit and create a story library or database. When you are ready to market your nonprofit’s needs, you will have the stories ready.
WRITING YOUR STORIES
Your storytelling’s framework needs to show the mission in action and tell the story of your nonprofit’s accomplishment. Your story also needs to reflect your passion. In doing so, your audience will be inspired to take action.
When you are writing your stories, first choose someone to represent your nonprofit. For ethical and transparency reasons, be sure to get permission from the individual and explain their role in the campaign. A media release form will come in handy. If needed, change the names and certain details to protect privacy. Be mindful to not portray your organization as the “hero,” and to cherish your relationship with the individual and their family.
Tips on writing an appealing story that compels your audience to listen:
- Use a subject’s face that would empower the audience to connect and listen to the point of your story.
- Introduce the subject, including their goal, and what things prevented them from their need.
- Mention what is needed to remove the barrier or how it was removed.
- State the outcome of the subject’s story and how their life changed. What was the impact?
- Talk about how donors helped or how supporters can make this outcome happen for other people through your non-profit. This is called a “call to action.”
A “call to action” can be something you need at the moment, either to donate to your cause, purchase your products, go to your event, follow your social media, or simply go to your website.
Ending your stories with a “call to action” will help your campaign by telling your audience how they can contribute to your organization’s success. Plus, others listening to your stories may also end up being your clients or partners in your outreach to the community.
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL STORYTELLING
Dressember uses collections of stories from around the world to show their organization’s mission and success.
- Videos: They use a low budget way to present their campaigns through videos and ask the audience to join them without using fancy edits.
- Website: They showcase their mission through projects and raw stories. Their calls to action are clear.
- Social Media: Their Facebook page and Summer Book Club group use creative ways to engage their audience.
Habitat for Humanity, known by its name and mission, uses a variety of marketing strategies through various platforms.
- Use of Website: Their stories and news use different calls to action for how to partner up with their local branch, to call on members of congress regarding their mission, and for more ways to help.
- The Tone of Message: Certain tones are used to capture the audience’s attention to find out more about their services.
- Engagement In Action: Photos and videos are shared to show how they build projects. See Habitat for Humanity’s Instagram account for ideas.
The Takeaway from their examples, even on a tight budget:
- Finding the voice of your organization is critical in marketing what your non-profit has to offer.
- Use visuals, such as photos and videos, that are eye-catching.
- A targeted, emotionally compelling story blows us away each time. Your campaigns do not need to sparkle; it just needs to be simple, yet inviting.
- A collection of stories will be useful for your future campaigns.
- Showing the work in progress on your social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram- and explaining what you’re doing- is a great way to engage your audience and to gain more followers.
TEST RUNS TO SUSTAIN THE MOMENTUM
While you are rolling out your social media marketing campaign, be sure to use test runs to see what content works and what doesn’t. Tracking Engagement Tools, such as Buffer or Hootsuite, help you to measure your impact on social media networks.
To measure your impact across the social media platforms and the traffic to your website, you need engagement. Engagement is when users like, share, and comment on your posts, or follow your page. Storytelling by The Communications Network offers guides for how to measure your reach. Doing test runs is critical to see which tone of voice, videos, or messages are the most effective and whether they are reaching the correct target audience.
LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGIES AND TOOLS
There are many digital tools and marketing methods to get your stories in front of your audience.
- Digital Marketing materials include videos, email blasts/e-newsletters, vlogs, blog blurbs, photos and graphics posts, infographics, and press releases.
- Print marketing materials can include thank-you cards, postcards, pamphlets/brochures, flyers/posters, billboards, and newsletters.
- A website with a “landing page” can be used to get people to sign up for your e-newsletters.
- Search Engage Optimization (SEO) coding can help people find you through Google search.
- Social Media Marketing includes platforms such as Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumbler, YouTube, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads.
These tools will come in handy when you share your subjects’ stories. Their families and friends would be compelled to share their stories with a wider audience for an “organic reach.” The more people share freely, the more attention your organization gets. This type of positive exposure can create opportunities for partnerships, volunteers, clients, and sponsors.
SHOWCASING YOUR NON-PROFIT STORYTELLING
Your stories are critical to the success of your marketing. To attract attention, you need to be creative in letting your donors and volunteers know that they’re making an impact on the community and that they’re part of your organization’s story.
While you focus on the message and the aesthetics of your marketing tools, be sure to balance it with the accessibility to include everyone in your targeted audience. Promote inclusion. Your audience will notice it and appreciate you for it. Do your research to find unlimited resources out there for you to use. See below for more resources to utilize.
Remember, you can use the power of storytelling in the marketing and branding of your non-profit!
The Arc’s Tools for Building Power Through Personal Stories
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