You know you need to tell more stories to raise funds – but where do you find these stories?
Storytelling and writing are essential skills for missionaries, ministry and nonprofit leaders. If you struggle to tell stories, you’ll struggle to raise the funds you need. The hardest part of storytelling may be recognizing the stories around you and developing the habit of collecting what you need to tell those stories in a compelling way.
In this episode, I share five ways to find the stories you need.
1. Raise your story awareness.
The stories you need are right in front of you. You can miss stories because you’re focused on the work; you haven’t “tuned” your eyes and ears to look for stories. If you know what to look for, you can learn to recognize stories in time to capture the information you need.
2. Identify the person responsible for collecting stories.
If it’s not someone’s job, then it won’t get done. That’s not to say that only one person should be responsible for doing all the work – but someone should be watching and guiding and prodding everyone to do what they can. It could be a different person at different locations, or someone on the team assigned to collect interviews at an event. Deputize people, show them what to do, and share the results!
3. Use stories you already have.
You can reuse stories that have worked for you in the past. Look through your blog posts and emails and rewrite or update your best stories. Follow up on a previously unfinished story, and let donors know how things turned out–thanks to their help. Check volunteer or staff orientation materials, training materials, webinars, etc. for stories. You can also repurpose stories by telling them another way. Turn a blog post into a video, or a video into a blog post.
4. Identify where your transformation stories happen.
Build in story collection points in the places where the transformation you’re working toward actually shows up. Who is involved? Use interviews, surveys, or follow up visits to collect stories at a point in your process where the transformation occurs.
5. Know which stories you need to tell, especially the ones you forgot.
It helps to know what you’re looking for. I think we all understand we need transformation stories (also called impact stories), but we often miss the key stories that move people along in the process of getting to know you and your mission. These are the “forgotten stories, the stories that explain the problem you solve, how you solve it, and why you do things a certain way. You can create these stories as “explainers”, where you speak directly to the problems and your approach to solving it. But if you know the type of stories you need, you can also recognize a variety of stories and include these elements that tie your work to that big vision you’re working toward.
I hope these tips help you find the stories you need!