Nonprofits may feel a sense of skepticism and uncertainty about how to implement personal storytelling strategies. You may believe in the power of personal storytelling, but your Board of Directors or Executive Director doesn't. In this article, we'll address the significant concerns of personal storytelling. Also, we'll offer solutions to overcome the challenges and provide some examples.
Concern 01: Relevance to the Mission
Have you been asked, "How does personal storytelling relate to our organization's mission?" Or, maybe you've pondered this yourself. What if your organization works primarily with other organizations? You may not have direct access to the people positively impacted by the work.
Finding the right stories that resonate with the audience and showcase the nonprofit's impact can be challenging.
You want to ensure your storytelling efforts align with your nonprofit's goals. This is why finding the right story to resonate with your audience and advance your mission is crucial. The right story will connect your mission to real people and their experiences.
In Vanessa Chase Lockshin's book The Power of Storytelling in Nonprofit Communications, she emphasizes the importance of storytelling to create a deeper connection between the organization and its supporters. She notes that "people give to people, not to cause."
Vanessa also notes that "storytelling can help donors see the human impact of their contributions." By sharing personal stories, nonprofits can make their work more relatable and inspire more meaningful engagement from supporters."
To overcome this concern, start by identifying the right story. A beautiful and captivating story told at the wrong time will not fully resonate with your audience.
For example, we crafted a dope story about the interconnectedness of cars, air quality, and economic opportunity for our client's fundraiser campaign.
Everyone approved and enjoyed the story, but it didn't move the donation needle as expected. Did it garner some donations? Yes, but not in the way to reach our goals.
Ultimately, we learned that a story wasn't needed when donors considered giving. We needed a different story, preferably an impact or a donor story.
Concern 02: Measurability
Another concern your organization may have about personal storytelling is how to measure the impact of these efforts.
They may need a more straightforward way to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) to justify the resources and budget allocated to storytelling. Despite the challenges with measuring the ROI of personal storytelling, there are ways to measure impact beyond just financial returns.
Our partners at Wistia say the video metrics include views, engagement (likes, shares, comments), conversions, and, most importantly, time watched.
The nature of personal storytelling is a slow process, like sowing seeds in the Spring and yielding a harvest in the Fall. The personal stories you tell today cultivate the hearts of your donors and potential donors for tomorrow.
There are several ways to measure the success of personal storytelling efforts, such as tracking engagement metrics, monitoring social media activity, and conducting surveys to measure the emotional impact of personal stories on audiences.
For more details on tracking video metrics, check out this article.
Concern 03: Limited Resources
Lastly, we know nonprofits often can benefit from more resources. So, budget and capacity are another big concern around personal storytelling.
You might be struggling to justify investing resources into video storytelling, let alone making those videos personal and emotive, when there are many other pressing needs within the organization. Emotional storytelling can be a cost-effective way to advance your mission.
With the rise of social media and user-generated content, there are more opportunities than ever to share personal stories without breaking the bank. Plus, storytelling can be a powerful way to engage donors and attract new supporters, ultimately leading to increased resources for your organization.
If funding is low to invest in video storytelling, what if you focused on one or two key stories? Investing in evergreen video stories is a great way to maximize the impact of your ROI because evergreen content is relevant over an extended period, resulting in ongoing benefits. Essentially, you can prioritize evergreen content yielding more results than time-bound stories.
Learn more about the First 5 Evergreen Videos Your Nonprofits Should Make
To further illustrate the power of personal storytelling, let's look at some real-life examples of nonprofit organizations that have successfully implemented personal storytelling strategies.
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing, regularly shares personal stories of exonerees on their website and social media channels. These stories highlight the impact of the organization's work and demonstrate the exonerees' humanity and resilience.
Charity: Water, an organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries, uses personal storytelling to connect donors with the people they are helping.
"Through their" Born in September" campaign, the organization shared the story of a woman in Ethiopia who gave birth to a healthy baby boy after receiving clean water. The campaign raised over $2 million and helped to fund clean water projects in Ethiopia.
Girl Effect, an organization that empowers adolescent girls in developing countries, uses personal storytelling to demonstrate the impact of their work.
Through their "My First Day" campaign, the organization shared the stories of adolescent girls worldwide and how Girl Effect has helped empower them to reach their full potential.
Incorporating personal storytelling in your nonprofit communications can create emotional connections and encourage supporters to be more engaged.
Just remember to identify the most suitable story that resonates with their audience, measure the success of their personal storytelling efforts through engagement metrics, and focus on one or two key stories that yield long-lasting results.