Do Your Nonprofit Stories ‘Knock Their Socks Off’?
What is it about some stories that stick with us?
Length? Topic? Word choices? The storyteller?
The truth: An emotionally connecting story simply paints a vivid picture with words.
Yes, there are some science and art to the process. Sharing powerful, connecting examples of your mission-in-action does not have to be difficult or take a long time.
Keeping in mind what makes stories truly connect with people is the key.
The Most Important Thing Stories Must Do Is to Create a Feeling of Empathy
The definition of empathy from Merriam-Webster is: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.
Unfortunately, in the nonprofit sector, sympathy is one of the most common feelings caused by sharing a story. We rush to share some facts and leave little room to connect with the person and their conflict.
We simply end up feeling sorry for the person.
That is not the kind of storytelling that causes listeners and readers to take action.
As you create your story library, draft your fall appeals, social media or fundraising email campaign, remember this:
Sympathy creates distance.
Empathy creates connections and feelings of understanding.
Example No. 1:
When I read that short snippet of a story, I feel sorry for Anna and her family, but I don’t connect to what they must feel.
And I don’t feel the need to take action.
Example No. 2:
This short example compels me to think about how I would feel if I had to tell my child there are no pictures left for them to take to school.
And that there is no replacement for all those memories captured on camera and stored on our destroyed computer.
A compelling, action-causing, powerful difference.
Taking the time to carefully paint a picture that your listeners or readers care about can be the difference between “ho hum” and “knock their socks off.”
The key: Share just enough to cause listeners or readers feel empathy, so they want to learn more and do more.
Do you have an example of shifting a story from “ho hum” to deeply connecting? Please share yours in the comments.
Lori L. Jacobwith, founder of Ignited Fundraising™, is a master storyteller and fundraising culture change expert. With a passion for the positive, she has provided coaching and training for more than 4,500 organizations and 500,000 people. Her work has helped nonprofits raise $300 million from individual donors… and counting.