Welcome!

Related Topics: SYS-CON MEDIA, CMS

SYS-CON MEDIA: Article

Help Nonprofits Sell Better with Stories

Tips for using success stories to show a nonprofit's value

If you heard that a certain type of fox is endangered, would you be moved to act?

How about if you heard that a mama fox was trying to keep herself and her litter safe as their forest disappears?

Now that's different. There's a story there with actual individuals being affected.

Such was the storyline for a campaign by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which told a universal tale of survival to communicate about the kit fox problem in Northern California.

Information in the context of a story is dramatically more compelling than straight facts. Yet, many nonprofits fail to tell stories to illustrate their challenges and successful outcomes.

"If you look at the web sites of fifty small nonprofits, you would be hard-pressed to find written stories or pictures that tell a story," says Katya Andresen, author of Robin Hood Marketing and Chief Operating Officer, Network for Good. "You should never be communicating without stories - pictures, examples or full-blown stories."

Most nonprofit staffers know they need to tell more success stories, but just don't have the capacity.

Whether you work for a nonprofit, are an independent writer, or board member or volunteer, here are some tips for helping nonprofits integrate stories more frequently and effectively into communications.

Leverage praise letters

Nonprofits that serve their beneficiaries well inevitably get praise letters from time to time. Make the most of this unsolicited praise.

Immediately ask the submitter if and how you might use their comments. Even take a few minutes to collect a few more details about their story if possible. Can you reprint their comments and stories in your newsletters, blog, annual reports and brochures, or read them at events? Can you use the person's full name or just first name?

Ask the people you serve

Encourage those that the nonprofit serves, or family members, to submit their own stories. Include a "share your story" page on your web site, ask on surveys, or hand out "share your story" forms at live events that they can fill out right there and hand back.

Be sure to collect contact information in case you need to follow up, and let them check multiple-choice options on how you can use their stories publicly.

ID story witnesses

What individuals - paid or volunteer - are in a position to see successes firsthand and relay those back to office staff or someone handling communications? Identify your potential story witnesses.

Make it easy for witnesses

Communicate to story witnesses - in regular communications - specifically and frequently where to share their positive accounts.

Should they email a specific point person? Fill out an online form? How about a success story box in your office for staff or volunteers to write down a few words?

Also solicit stories in staff and volunteer meetings.

Share within the team

Everyone in the organization that communicates with internal and external audiences should have access to your latest success stories.

Your communications person or a volunteer may produce your newsletter while others are creating donor letters, annual reports or grant requests, or training new volunteers and staff. Email stories among the staff to ensure everyone has access to them, or post them on an intranet site.

The president of EDF holds fireside chats annually to tell stories and build team spirit with new employees.

Stay positive

Andresen urges nonprofits not to tell tales of doom and gloom. Rather focus more on the positive outcome to avoid depressing your audience.

Mix your media

Tell your stories in various ways - audio, video, written, in photos, and verbally in meetings with potential supporters.

Find a talented volunteer

No time to interview beneficiaries and write or video success stories? Engage freelancers, or even talented journalism, film or public relations students.

But remember, quality does matter. You want to look professional, so hire the best you can.

Vary story perspectives

Don't just tell beneficiary stories. Make-A-Wish Foundation also features wish-granter, volunteer and sponsor stories.

Remember, always use stories in all internal and external communications to connect with your various audiences.

As for EDF's kit foxes, as a result of the campaign, farmers signed a safe harbor agreement to help protect them.

More Stories By Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is the founder and president of Compelling Cases, Inc. and author of "Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset." She has helped dozens of companies create and manage nearly 500 customer case studies and success stories over the past decade. Casey is featured in numerous books, articles, and teleclasses. She consults with organizations one-on-one and conducts online customer-story classes.

Latest Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...