Last week, we had the opportunity to sit down with our Director of Funder Impact, Jeff Melando, to talk about best practices for crafting an impact story.
In the webinar, Jeff covered how you can craft an impact story for your organization that is both data-driven and emotionally appealing. Whether you were unable to tune in live or you’re looking for a recap of the tips you learned, we’re sharing some key takeaways from our Crafting Your Impact Story webinar.
Where have we been and where are we going?
2019 was an interesting year, especially across the social good sector.
- Growth of the philanthropic sector outpaced economic growth.
- Funding for human services nonprofits is projected to grow 5-10% in 2020.
- Giving by corporation increased by 5.4% in 2019, totaling $20.05 billion.
- Giving by foundations increased by an estimated 7.3% to $75.86 billion in 2019.
This past decade, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet joined forces to create The Giving Pledge to encourage the extremely wealthy to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. This campaign now has 200+ billionaires participating and at least $500 billion dollars of giving has been pledged.
5 trends of 2020
(Sam Caplan, Founder of New Spark Strategy, Former CIO of Walton Family Foundation)
1. More mergers & collaborations
2. Tech becomes a focal point of program work
3. Strategy emerges as a competency
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will be the new grant management
5. AI becomes prevalent in the sector
Crafting an impact story
An impact story is an authentic melding of data and empathy. Data by itself doesn’t change people’s minds or motivate behavior, and stories without data are just fluff. Funders today are looking for more than just a sad picture on a billboard, they are looking for impact.
We use impact stories to apply data that validates a specific and measurable variable that has been moved by these actions.
There are 4 key steps for crafting an impact story.
Step 1: Conduct Research
When it comes to crafting an impact story it all starts with research. And when we talk about research, we are also talking about program design. Begin with: Is your mission statement geared towards impact?
- Put together an Annual Report that shows year over year impact.
- Which clients have you most impacted?
- Which clients do you have the most data on?
- Pull reports.
- Use technology. Engaging clients with technology is the future. Internally, it’s important to use technology that makes sense for you. When you use all of that, you put the person you’re serving and their experience at the center of what you do.
Step 2: Set the Scene
Take a second and think about what happened in the past year. What’s going on in the year ahead? What goals have you set? What new challenges are you facing?
It’s helpful to do a SWOT analysis and think through what your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are. You can then come up with a plan to overcome any potential negatives and boost positives.
Step 3: Introduce Your Characters
A lot of characters come down to the people receiving services, the people doing the services, and the board. But it’s bigger than that. Most nonprofits have donors beyond their funders, and most nonprofits are part of a community. It’s not just the broad, general community. This community can include the other nonprofits who are serving the same people you’re serving. What are the unknown agencies in your community that can better help you serve your clients?
Yes, an impact story can be used to raise money. However, your story should also create awareness and connection to the reader, which is often missed.
Step 4: Frame Your Narrative
This step is where we put everything together. When we start to think about how we want to frame our narrative, we can get creative. It could be a big part of your brand identity, and it could go out across multiple channels (newsletters, social media, press? in multiple forms (email, blog, video).
What do you want to do with your story?
- Use it in Grant Applications
- Share the story with your community to draw engagement
- Post it across social media
- Establish an emotional connection to secure funding
- Keep it as a living document to stay updated
There is power in how we share our impact and how we get our impact out in the community.
Telling the story is easy. The hard part is effectively blending the data and impact into more meaningful stories.
In the full webinar, Jeff answers live Q&As and shares specific examples of how organizations have created their own impact stories. You can check out the full webinar here.