Nonprofit Story Elements

Good storytelling has a huge impact on people, making it a valuable asset to any nonprofit organization. You want to circulate powerful stories about what you do in order to engage staff members, inspire board members, and spread the word about your mission throughout your community. In order to be effective, your nonprofit stories need to have certain specific elements:

  1. Real: The story must be true, of course, but it should also be more than that. It needs to be relevant to anyone who will hear it. It needs to feel real to them. Pick a truly meaningful true event to write about. This will help give it a higher impact.
  2. Current: A current story is more relevant to the reader. It should be about something that occurred in the last week or so and involve current situations that people can relate to right now.
  3. Personal: Focus on people, not general events. Involve not just what was done, but how it impacted real people. How did they feel? How did they react? What was the real effect on them?
  4. Short: The longest it should be is two or three paragraphs. Your story needs to be short enough so that someone can read it in a few minutes while on the go.
  5. Focused on your mission: In order for the story to do anything for your organization specifically, it needs to be centered on your cause. Ask yourself, “Does this show how we are accomplishing our purpose?”
  6. Memorable: A great story stays with people. You need content that will create an emotional impact on individuals. Also, it should be short and clear enough to be easy to recall and share with others.
  7. Powerful: People should have goose bumps when they read or hear your story. Part of this can come from raw storytelling skill, but a larger part is having an inspirational story in the first place. A good way to test it is to read it yourself. If it has no effect on you, then it won’t work.
  8. Shows your organization in action: You want people to be inspired not only by the story itself, but by your organization as a whole. Make sure the story shows how your nonprofit organization made an impact in the lives of others.

Your staff employees and volunteers are on the front lines of your organization, which gives them the perspective needed to produce powerful stories. Assigning one or two stories to be written each week is a great way to get the attention and inspiration that your organization needs.

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