Be a Better Nonprofit Storyteller In 5 Simple Steps
We can’t stress the importance of storytelling enough. We believe it’s an under-appreciated art. Stories go viral, not statistics. When it comes to fundraising, stories are your emotional appeals. It’s pathos. Studies show that individual stories bring in far more donations than statistics alone. So it’s important that your nonprofit knows how to tell an engaging story.
What do great stories have in common?
They all have:
- intrigue, suspense, and tension
- provocative yet simple narratives
- strong openings and closings
- details that fill our imaginations
- the right ratio of need and hope
Craft an engaging story in 5 simple steps
We’re going to use a summarized version of Molly Katchpole’s Bank of America story to explain the 5 parts of an engaging story. For those who don’t remember, last year, Molly, using Change.org, was able to use her personal story to stop Bank of America from instituting a monthly $5 debit card fee. Let’s break down her story into the 5 steps.
1. Exposition: Establish the scene
Molly Katchpole was a recent college graduate and part time nanny with less than $2,000 to her name.
2. Conflict: The problem on which the story is based
After being bailed out by taxpayers and earning record profits, Bank of America was planning to initiate a new monthly $5 service fee for debit card users. This fee would hit low income users like Molly the hardest.
3. Rising Action: The journey from conflict to resolution
Frustrated, Molly created an online petition directly aimed at Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan using Charge.org. She shared her petition with friends and family hoping it would gain some traction.
In a short period of time, Molly was able to gain over 300,000 online signatures and the attention of the national news media. Public pressure to abandon the proposed $5 fee intensified.
4. Resolution: The solution to the problem (Note: Not everyone will be happy with this outcome
On November 1st, 2011, Bank of America abandoned its plans to institute a monthly $5 debit card fee. Molly had won her battle.
5. Denouement: What happens after the resolution?
Bank of America has now committed to actively listen to customer needs, claiming to welcome new conversations similar to Molly’s.
What stories can your nonprofit craft to bring in more donations?
Photo Courtesy MIKI Yoshihito 2010