“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world,” writes Robert McKee, author of Story, the enormously popular book for aspiring writers that’s come to be known as “the screenwriters’ bible.”
At WannaPixel, we believe storytelling plays an essential role in helping your nonprofit reach a broader audience. It also serves to recruit new volunteers into your ranks and ultimately motivate donations to support your cause. But incorporating the power of storytelling into your nonprofits’ website and donor management first requires an understanding of how to establish a story and how best to convey it to your audience and potential new supporters.
While many organizations rely on statistics to hammer home their points, a clearly presented story can serve to motivate your audience to action. Good storytelling can create a deeper emotional connection to the individuals you’re trying to serve. So what is nonprofit storytelling? And how does it impact your fundraising?
It begins with a human face.
Give your readers someone they can connect with and care about. They need to see who is affected by your cause, and how potential donors can play a part in positively impacting this person’s life. Readers need details that help forge the connection: does the character play soccer? have a beloved dog? like to read? A character and story are more compelling when readers find footholds for empathy and concern.
When telling the story, you want readers to see themselves or someone they love in that character. There’s a universality to our experiences, and your character can convey the struggles we all share—the deep need we all have to feel secure, to know our loved ones are safe, to see that our children have opportunities, to bring justice and fairness in the world.
Make the goals clear.
The character you’re presenting to potential donors has dreams and hopes just like any one of us. Share them. Do they want to grow up to become a teacher? Do they want clean water for their village? Make it clear what they’re trying to achieve, and help your readers understand what’s at stake.
When the goals are clear, the fundraising becomes less complicated. Your character needs shoes to be able to walk to school? Your nonprofit is working to make clothing and shoes available to children in need. Keep the language direct and simple, and the message hits home.
Compelling stories present conflict.
Life is full of ups and downs. But some people face obstacles that seem insurmountable. That’s where your organization comes in—to approach a challenge and make things better. Present the conflict in clear ways so your readers understand what’s keeping your character from their goal. Is it a food shortage? A lack of clean water after a recent hurricane? A dire need for school supplies and books? Make the conflict clear.
And let your audience feel an emotion, whether it’s happiness or anger, desperation or pride. Your character’s story should be compelling and make your reader feel moved to respond. After all, you wouldn’t have started this nonprofit if there weren’t a pressing reason. Emotion motivates us to act. And for your audience, that emotion can serve to bolster your fundraising so that you can do the good work your nonprofit set out to do.
Call to action.
This is the part where you connect the dots. Lay out the roadmap connecting the challenges that your character faces with how your reader can act. Spell out how they can help by financially supporting your work on the ground. Make it clear what your organization is doing and the role donations play in helping you accomplish this work. Make sure to direct them to your donation page, so they can put their motivation to work immediately. What does every dollar do? Show it. Make your reader an actor in this challenge, and show how fundraising allows you both to solve the problem.
Everyone wants to see results, whether it’s a good score on a math exam you studied for or the flowers growing from the seedlings you planted. Showcase and highlight what your character accomplished through the donations and hard work your organization and your supporters did together. What specifically has the character been able to achieve through your help? Has their village dug new wells for fresh water? Has their local school established a library so that all kids now have access to books?
Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful tool for connecting the dots and motivating interested readers to make donations to the work you’re doing. When your audience can see how important they are in your character’s journey and the crucial role their financial support plays in improving your character’s life, they become actors in the story as well. And hopefully it leads to happy endings all around.
Let WannaPixel help you with storytelling today.