How to Create Fresh Stories for your Nonprofit

Photo by Michael Ging

By now you already know how powerful storytelling can be for your nonprofit. Storytelling enables you to connect the dots in your constituent’s hearts so that they take action on their terms, and share that story with their friends.

But even the best stories get old if they’re simply repeated over and over again. They begin to lose their ability to touch people on an emotional level. And it really becomes a problem when you aren’t feeling it anymore.

Freshness is Key

The ability to consistently tell your story in new and interesting ways ensures that the lifeblood of your organization is thoroughly oxygenated. Creating fresh stories is like breathing, and we all know what happens when that ceases.

The are a few ways to breathe life into your nonprofit’s existing story. You are incredibly creative and passionate, so you should have no problem adding to this list:

  • — Victory pictures: You can share how you’re changing the world with hundreds of pictures. Proud parents of a child with CP who ran their first race, that child crossing the finish line, their friends cheering him on, etc. Post these pictures on their own on Facebook, Instagram, or on your blog. Caption them with Google Plus’ photo editor or Pixlr.
  • — Victory videos: Wherever and whenever you take pictures, make sure you shoot short videos as well. A decent camera like a Cannon Powershot will do both, but so will an iPhone. Better still if you encourage volunteers and attendees to be willing documentarians.
  • — Talking shoes: Don’t ignore the seemingly small details in stories. Imagine how powerful a picture of the sneakers worn by this kid would be to other families! It would tell the story differently, but just as powerfully.
  • — Pictures of words: What did the parents say in the video that was most moving? Create an image with just those words. Make it easy for others to say how they feel the same.
  • — Punch up your copy: Go through your website copy and read the stories. Better yet, have your mom read them; she’ll have the guts to tell you if they’re boring. After you’re done crying, go back, and put some punch in your stories.

These are just a few ideas (add yours in the comments below).

Tell the Story No One Has Told

Another way to breathe new life into your stories is tell a sub-plot. For example, let’s say your organization’s story is about the incredible victories overcoming the challenges of breast cancer (of which your org plays an integral part). A sub-plot could focus on the victories of a survivor’s children.

The key to creating effective sub-plots or tangential stories is to deeply understand your audience. You have to know what will move them on an emotional level. You want tears. You want action.

How do you refresh your stories?