3 Essential Nonprofit Tips for Finding the Right Stories

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Stories exist all around you and your organization. But how do you identify the best stories for your nonprofit communications? This article will share three tips for finding the right stories to tell. The aim is to help you become more intentional about the stories you use for your communication strategies.

01: Identify your audience.

The starting place for finding the right stories is understanding who you are talking to. This is important because every audience needs different things and prefers other things.

For example, take the topic of social justice. There would be significant differences in how to tell a story about this topic to your child vs. your grandmother. The audience somewhat dictates the story based on their needs and preferences.

So, first, identify the needs and preferences of your audience. Do they prefer written, audio, video, or a combination? Are they inspired by hearing firsthand from the people in the field of your work? Knowing these things and more will help you better understand what type of story and how to tell it.

02: Understand the journey you're audience is on

Your entire audience (donors, volunteers, partners, etc.) is on their journey in relationship to you and your organization. We call this a customer journey.

According to HubSpot, a customer journey is the series of interactions with a brand, product, or business as they become aware of a pain point and decide. You might be familiar with a donor journey map. It's the same thing.

Is your story's target audience at the awareness, consideration, or decision-making stages? Knowing this will inform your story selection because what your audience needs at each stage differs. The goal here is to craft stories aligning with each audience journey phase.

For example, awareness is all about getting on the mental radar of your target audience.

At this stage, it's vital to introduce potential supporters to your organization and make them aware of your mission and impact. This step is crucial for finding the right story to tell.

We discuss this and the various stories in our upcoming video series. Stay tuned for our upcoming video series.

03: Seek someone to communicate the story.

Once you've identified your target audience and know their stage, it's time to find the right person to be a conduit for the story. This could be people your org has had an impact on, partners, or even team members.

But hold up! Don't pick anyone to be on camera. The face of your story, which we call "the heart," depends on what story you're trying to tell. Look for individuals who have a direct connection with your organization. Such people can be beneficiaries, partners, or team members.

At BairStories, our process for finding the right person includes a series of pre-interviews.

We do this to discover the big three: uniqueness, desire, and motivation. If your story ever felt flat, the driver might have needed a stronger desire, motivation, or uniqueness.

These attributes get to the shared human truths and experiences, helping the viewing audience connect with the person on camera. You could conduct pre-interviews or request stories via some submission form to begin accessing each person.

Yet, you can never go wrong with creating a list of potential people and conducting pre-interviews with them.

To learn more about conducting pre-interviews, check out this article.

Let's wrap it up.

Finding the right story requires knowing who your audience is, understanding where they are on the audience journey map, and finding the person with a strong desire, motivation, and uniqueness to deliver the story.

These tips will help your story connect more with your intended audience. Your story becomes a tailored experience for those it's intended for.

For more storytelling tips, continue reading our articles to help you to boost audience engagement and donations through storytelling.

We're a Minnesota-based storytelling agency serving the Midwestern United States.

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