3 Tips for Inspiring Nonprofit Supporters Through Storytelling

Mon, Sep 07 2015

Anyone who has ever had experience with nonprofit organisations know just how challenges there can be. Getting people’s support for a cause based on good will alone can be tricky and that’s where storytelling comes in.

The days of listing facts and figures alone when giving a presentation are dead, especially for nonprofits. It’s all about building relationships and that’s exactly what storytelling does; it takes you and your audience on a journey together.

PR Newswire’s social media manager Ryan Hansen has experience in both the corporate communications and nonprofit worlds. Ryan shared his experience as the storyteller in Merck for Mothers’ workshop, Start a Conversation That Matters.

Here are Ryan’s suggestions of the three main things to keep in mind when using storytelling to connect with your audience.

Get personal. An invested audience can be a nonprofit’s most powerful ally in increasing awareness around the cause it’s championing. To inspire people to advocate for a nonprofit’s mission, you need to connect with them on an emotional level by putting a face and name on the issue.

Be candid. During Merck for Mothers’ workshop, I was asked to discuss losing my wife due to complications from childbirth. Some experiences, like this one, can be difficult to talk about because of how personal they are for the storyteller. However, brand loyalty originates with trust, just like any good friendship. Although you want to be appropriate when sharing your story, don’t hold back. Openness makes it easier for potential supporters to understand the depth of a nonprofit’s mission.

Welcome others’ stories. During the workshop, Merck for Mothers invited attendees to share their stories of childbirth and motherhood, creating a room full of advocates for its 10-year, $500 million maternal health initiative.

Encourage your audience to join your cause by sharing their story with a tweet, photo, blog post, etc. In turn, these influencers can provide invaluable visibility for your message when they talk about it with their followers.

Content – whether it’s user-generated or your own – can be very effective at grabbing influencers’ attention.

Ryan's full story can be seen here.


Ryan Hansen, PR Newswire’s social media manager

Adam Green, PRIA Intern

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