Using either storytelling or data to display your nonprofit’s outcomes is great – but not using both means you’re missing an opportunity in your fundraising! Using one or the other can alienate donors that process information differently than you’re conveying it. The best way to yield maximum fundraising results is to use both, in some sort of combination, to accurately and display your impact. This way you can tell those inspiring stories AND also back them up with hard facts.
Let’s back up. Why are storytelling and data in tandem so important and how can your nonprofit get better at it?
Storytelling and Data Best Practices
Let’s face it – everyone loves a good story, especially in the nonprofit space. Once you start weaving a rich, inspiring story to a group of your supporters, you’re sure to get their attention. Supporters feel engaged with these types of appeals because people are hardwired for stories.
You can start crafting better a better organizational story by collecting as many individual stories from everyone engaged with your mission. Begin your story archive by collecting them from staff, donors, volunteers, and, especially, clients. Your clients have incredible, inspiring stories. Make sure that you convey their journeys and successes to your supporters. Further, diversify the stories you’re telling so that you can appeal to all types of donors.
Stories about individuals are incredibly powerful. Your clients’ stories are unique and abundant – use them and highlight their success. These personal accounts immediately resonate with your donors because emotionally-gripping stories, like success stories, build empathy between your donors and your constituents. If they hear about how their donations directly impacted one life, they will be more willing to give again… or for the first time.
Stories create an emotional connection and, in turn, raise more money for your organization.
Learn more about how to combine storytelling with accurate data in our Free eBook: Combining Stories and Data to Better Prove Your Impact.
When your organization tracks important data over time, you will have an easier time painting a picture of your mission’s effectiveness and how the work you are doing is impacting the people you serve.
It can be tempting to track everything that happens within your walls and out in the community. This, however, may not be the most efficient way to collect the data that actually matters. While it’s interesting to see every data point, utilizing each of these points in a manual report can cause it to take days, weeks or months to complete. This may cause your reporting to get behind, where the data is no longer relevant. Only collecting the data that aligns with your end goal, will ensure consistent and expedited reports.
Data is important to your donors because it shows provable, impactful data that can be traced over time. Seeing your organization’s numbers and how they translate into who your operations are directly affecting your constituents builds trust between you and your supporters. This trust is key when fundraising because it can lead to more donations and more mission being given.
Once you know the basics of storytelling and data, your organization can begin to use them together to get more support from your donors. In order to start maximizing your fundraising potential, start using the whole brain to capture your entire audience. You will be able to tell those emotional, inspirational stories, but you can also use data to support your cause as well.