Most nonprofits have the need for a steady stream of success stories and testimonials to support their marketing and fundraising efforts. But, as you probably noticed, getting, producing and transforming these stories into effective marketing communication it’s not that easy.
In this post I’ll give you some tips on how to generate compelling success stories, focused on specific challenges, actors, solutions, and outcomes.
First of all you need to help your staff understand the importance of stories in the organization’s fundraising and marketing efforts. For that you need to show them how and where they are used, and their impact in bringing investors and donors closer to your organization.
Another important point is helping your staff collect those stories. This can include a simple mechanism of donor or beneficiary information collection (already part of the usual interaction you have with them), and also a specific intention of collecting their story within your project, in a more personal way (interviews for example). The key tip here is to introduce to these into your intake process, to the extent possible.
You’ll probably have to walk a delicate balance regarding to permissions… If for one side you need to tell a heartbreaking story of a real person overcoming dire circumstances, to motivate others to support your organization, on the other side you have to preserve their dignity.
It’s obvious you need to get the permission for making their stories public. But their privacy can be maintained in the way you attribute the story. The person can accept a full disclose (name and photo), can only accept the use of the first name or initials with a generic attribution, or a fake name to fully protect them.
Just don’t forget to thank them for sharing their story, show them the finished story and explain the impact it will have in raising more support for your cause and project.
Stories should be about real people who need something that your organization provides (your beneficiaries) and about the impact your investors and donors did, through your organization.
Two key ingredients in a great story are the emotional impact and the ability to place the reader or viewer in the subject shoes. A good way to do this is to tell the story in the first person – as it tends to be more emotional and more powerful. But at the same time it makes it more difficult to obtain story and it can turn not as coherent as needed for marketing purposes. In any case, you always choose to tell it in third person, while including quotes from the subject in the story.
Also, minds tend to wander, so get real quickly. In about 5-15 seconds your readers or viewers will tune out if you haven’t grabbed them.
Here are some key aspects you should have into account when telling the story:
Some tips on the feeling of the story:
After creating the story, think on how you are going to communicate it. Remember you can ‘capitalize’ your main content, by dividing and redistributing it in different platforms to different target audiences.
To do so, have in mind that each social platform offers different options for presenting your content. Consider the following:
Remember that it’s important to address each social platform individually. Even if you share the same content, change the form, the media, and the posting times accordingly.