A quick guide for nonprofits on how to create awareness, build buzz, and gain credibility through storytelling
Every nonprofit has an incredible story worth telling. Nonprofits work to lift up our communities and create much needed resources and opportunities for those in need. And, in order to get the support and donations you need to continue to do great work, it’s essential for you to share that impact with the world.
What is impact? Why is it important?
Impact is the most important part of your messaging because it measures the effectiveness of your organization. When you’re talking to volunteers, donors, and foundations that invest time into your cause, you need to convince them that their efforts make a measurable difference.
The first thing anyone wants to know about your nonprofit is what are you doing to make a difference in people’s lives? And, how effective are you? How are the people that you are serving benefiting from your actions?
A nonprofit’s impact is the cornerstone of its story. So, it’s important that you get that message across the right way.
Measure Your Impact
Every nonprofit needs to measure its impact. While it’s good to know about what your cause is doing as a whole, it’s really the numbers and statistics that you’re looking for. But numbers and statistics alone won’t help you. You need to weave these numbers into personal stories people can connect to.
Having personal, relatable stories behind your impact helps people understand the value of what you do. It’s an opportunity to attach a memorable personality into the work that you do. It’s one thing to say that your organization feeds a certain number of people every week, but it won’t garner an emotional response. What will entice people is a story about Rodrigo, who works everyday to feed his family and would be struggling to survive if it weren’t for the help of your organization. Your impact is much more effective when there is a person to empathize with.
When talking about your story, it’s really about incorporating your impact into personal, relatable stories, then weaving those together into one ongoing narrative.
There are three places where nonprofits can most effectively share their impact: social media, the press, and in-person events.
Social media is a great place to connect with entire communities, find volunteers, and fundraise.
With social media, you really have to know your audience. You’re not having one conversation with a crowd. You’re having many conversations individually when you’re online. That means that you need to know exactly who you need to reach, and tailor your message for them.
Social media is the place to share your organization’s impact on a personal level. You want to garner sympathy in your social media campaigns for the causes your organization are fighting, and then present your nonprofit as a solution to that problem, leaning heavily on the work you have done to support the cause they care about.
Here are some tips for sharing your stories on social media:
- Join online groups and communities that share your same interests and causes. Don’t just post content; actively engage in conversations with individuals.
- Tell stories in the form of photo, video, or audio content about the people who are personally affected by your nonprofit or someone who works in the nonprofit.
- Use ads to target people who show interest or who “like” your cause.
- Always tie your posts to a call-to-action, like a donation page or a volunteer sign-up page.
The press is an important tool for nonprofits to gain credibility and create a buzz around what they do. Having a credible, trusted source report on your impact creates a greater trust around your nonprofit. It assures readers, listeners, or viewers that your organization is credible and legitimate. After all, if the press trusts you, why shouldn’t the people?
The press is concerned with stories that affect the community. These stories make a lasting impact that the community should know about. Nonprofits are in a position where they can measure the impact they’re making on their communities and connect them to a story that’s newsworthy. Reaching out to the media about the good work your organization is doing, and specifically the stories they bring, is a very strong marketing tactic for nonprofits.
Here are a few tips for getting your story in the press:
- Know your audience. Target publications that cover stories about your cause.
- Focus on stories that are newsworthy. Not every community event is something the press will be interested in.
- Share stories about how your organization is fixing an issue or changing policy that’s impacting the people in your community.
- Tie stories into larger social issues within the community and the nation, and share how your organization is impacting the trend.
Marketing your impact through in-person events is really important for nonprofits. Everyone in your organization needs to have a strong grasp of your nonprofit’s story and the impact they are making.
In-person events allow you to connect one-on-one to the people in your community. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to potential donors. These events can include participation in panels, guest lectures, and fundraising events.
As stated before, you have to know your audience. Know ahead of time who you’re talking to, and tailor your story for them. You need to have your main story in mind when communicating with others. You have to share your story in a way that creates excitement about what you do, along with credibility. To do that, keep these tips in mind when speaking about about your organization:
- Have testimonials from people who have benefitted from your organization. Talking about specific people gives your audience someone to empathize with.
- Know your numbers and statistics. Weave these into your conversation to build credibility towards what you do.
- Remind your audience that they are a part of the community as well, and find a way to get them personally invested into your mission.
- Have the right collateral that supports that story and illustrates your impact.
All of this information adds up to additional opportunities to garner more volunteers and funders for your cause. This preparation requires lots of practice, which will help you create buzz and credibility around your nonprofit.
Nonprofits have unique and engaging stories that deserve to be shared. Knowing how to find your story, and how to share your organization’s impact on social media, the press, and in-person, is critical towards growing and marketing your nonprofit. To learn more about how to market your impact, register for the “Market Your Impact” workshop on August 28 in Washington, DC.
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