I was working as a journalist for Express Tribune, a global partner of the International New York Times when I was approached to work as a communications specialist for a development organization. At the time, I couldn’t understand why but I thought this was an interesting transition that will help me learn something new and I took the plunge. Today, I understand why a journalist was hired for the role: to tell stories.
Over the years, storytelling has become the core of development efforts and therefore become more important than ever before. Why so? Lets find out!
1. Stories create context.
It may seem counter intuitive to start with a story when crafting a marketing strategy, but, because stories help us relate and are memorable, they can ground your nonprofit’s strategy. Storytelling is a valuable tool to help donors understand the context in which you operate by seeing the challenges your beneficiaries (or your nonprofit) are facing.
For example, a nonprofit innovating in the category of food waste may use their latest technological advancements or the results of their program to develop a fundraising pitch. However, donors response better to a story about a low-income family whose child can now afford education because they have food on the table. Stories help us see the context.
2. Stories move people to act.
People make decisions on an emotional level. Logic and data are important. However, it is fundamentally emotion, backed up by logic, that makes us move or change.
Stories create emotion in us like nothing else. In fact, without a story, there would be no emotions at all. Data can’t cause emotion unless we can connect it to a story.
Storytelling, if done well, can easily encourage people to donate – which is what every nonprofit wants to do.
3. Stories create a connection.
We are hardwired to listen to stories. When we listen to stories, we are present and engaged. Whilst we debate, judge and question facts, figures, beliefs, and opinions – we don’t do the same with stories, at least not in the moment of listening.
Stories bridge people and create empathy. They make us connect one to another. They work with commonality – highlighting things we all share or can relate to.
This is incredibly meaningful to any organization, and especially a nonprofit one – where emotions motivate charitable actions.
While this establishes why storytelling has become important for nonprofits, if you’re looking for effective storytelling ways, watch out for my upcoming webinar.