Your charity changes lives every day. You probably have countless beneficiaries who could tell amazing stories about your impact.
But do you keep those stories? Can you reach into a bank of photos, testimonials, and before-and-after stories when it’s time to raise funds?
Many charities don’t. Recently, I met with an organization that was eager to launch their fall campaign. The strategy, mailing list, and timeline were set. There was just one problem. They didn’t have a story to tell.
Now, this charity saves lives. They make amazing things happen all the time. But for the development staff, the process of identifying and reaching someone willing to share their story, as well as securing photo resource, was daunting. Especially on a deadline.
That’s when they had a realization: “Resource collection needs to be an ongoing process. We need to keep a story and photo bank.”
Bingo! Building this bank of story and photo resource will serve you well. For one, it’s incredibly useful when it comes time to write your direct mail campaigns. And, you can leverage these stories year-round as content on your website, blog, social media channels, email campaigns, and more.
It’s easy to start building your bank. Start by striking up conversations with the people your charity serves. Send surveys to those you’ve helped and save their responses. You could even consider hiring an intern to reach out, armed with a script and good advice about conducting interviews.
While the pandemic has put many in-person interactions on hold, Zoom or phone interviews can be just as good — especially if the people you serve are coping with illness. Here at TrueSense, we’ve collected many stories virtually, from the comfort of the interviewees’ homes.
Don’t know what makes a good story? Start with this checklist:
- Stories about people served — Highlight the grateful patients, families who got back on their feet, seniors who found comfort, or whoever your nonprofit helps.
- Seasonal stories — Show how your charity gave someone a merry Christmas or helped a child get ready for back-to-school. Highlight stories about moms for Mother’s Day, and so on.
- Donor testimonials — Highlight a donor and why they decided to give, or why a legacy donor decided to put your charity in their will.
- Volunteer experiences — Ask a volunteer to share what they see every day, or describe how helping your nonprofit changed their life.
- Take a look back … at someone who was helped years ago, and share how they’re doing better now, thanks to you and your donors.
- Feature someone who never thought they’d need help … and how your donors were there for them at a crucial time.
- Showcase new advancements … by featuring someone whose story might have turned out very differently years ago.
- Share the point of view of someone on the front lines … and sees your charity’s most heart-wrenching cases.
Resource banking should be ongoing, so your stories stay current. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for good stories and be ready to make them part of your resource bank. Know that many people will be willing to share their story as a way to give back.
And, connecting with your beneficiaries will bring you closer to your mission. It’s a win for them, for you, and for your donors!
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