“Who do you serve?” is the biggest question we are all asked to answer. The response should be one that connects and resonates with, not only potential funders, such as with the nonprofit I work with, but also the community in which you serve. Storytelling is the key to helping you make that connection.
Why Storytelling is Important
The formation of most businesses starts with identifying a problem area, while meeting a particular need. The next step is to determine how you will measure the impact of your solution through the identified mission.
Most businesses (and especially nonprofits) struggle with measuring impact and this is where engaging storytelling comes into play. Storytelling should highlight how people or communities transform, evolve and are empowered beyond the beginning stages of a mission statement.
Six Steps to Storytelling Success
Below are some tips for storytelling that not only identify a problem but also measure the impact of the solution.
1. Determine the “As Is” state of the problem area.
Identify the problem area that needs to be solved. However, also understand what lead to the problem. Don’t immediately try to change anything without completely understanding the situation first.
2. Come up with planned stages for improvements.
You need to understand and hear the needs from the actual people or community you serve. This is to ensure your planned stages not only treat symptoms of a larger problem, but also get to the root of it.
3. Track before and after stages of improvement.
Tracking before and after stages of improvements helps you visually understand some of the impact your organization is having. Remember the impact of your storytelling will be measured. The “before” baseline is important.
4. Gather the insight of all persons involved in ensuring the success of the improvements.
Compelling and motivating stories create emotional resonance and human connection. The purpose is to show the people and meaningful actions that occur for improvements to happen. Stories for social impact must show people as active agents of change, who play a central role in creating solutions to the problems they face.
5. Capture video and testimonials.
Visual storytelling from the perspective of the people and communities you serve is a powerful tool. And video is currently a popular and effective tool for storytelling.
6. Be creative and innovative with your storytelling.
Stay abreast of new technologies and utilize these to engage your audiences online and offline through your storytelling.
One of my major goals for storytelling, in my work with a nonprofit, is to present the needs and facts of the mission, in an emotionally engaging way. This is to attract increasing numbers of potential funders, staff and volunteers, who are all important to achieving the mission.
“Facts don’t have the power to change someone’s story. Your goal is to introduce a new story that will let your facts in.” -Annette Simmons
How are you using storytelling in your work? Tell me about it in the comments!