Compelling stories are an essential selling point for many successful charitable initiatives. Whether an organization provides aid to needy children in developing countries, wrongly-convicted prisoners in the United States, or anything in between, stories are an important part of putting a human face on the work the non-profit does.
However, there’s more to a good story than just a collection of facts or emotions. Stories are meant to inspire, both in the sense that they should stir the human spirit and that they should persuade people to give charitably. Here are some tips for telling memorable and moving stories for charity.
Tell Stories of Success
You may feel tempted to focus on stories of people and groups who are most in need of the services your organization provides. The reasoning behind this is that these types of stories are illustrative of how much a particular charity is needed in the community. However, in most cases, people respond better to stories of past successes. Stories with happier endings let people know that their contribution is valuable and that your organization has made positive changes in the past.
Be Careful with Specific Details
There is no shortage of amazing and powerful individual life stories in the field of charitable work. You may want to share some of the most compelling ones indiscriminately, but it is important to first consider what kind of message a particular story is sending. For example, image a single mother who works seven days a week to put aside money for her children’s college.
There is no doubt that she is a dedicated and loving parent and could serve as an inspiration to many. However, some people who read her story are more likely to focus on her ability to overcome her difficult situation rather than the difficulties themselves. They may think that because one woman was able to triumph over adversity, all women are equally able to and so do not need or deserve help.
Use Examples to Make Data More Powerful
Weave facts and figures into your stories of individuals. Hard data is an important part of conveying the seriousness of social issues, but many people cannot react to this data emotionally unless it has a human face. Begin by telling an individual story, then hammer your point him with numbers that show the experience of the subject is far from unusual or atypical.
There are a lot of non-profit organizations out there, many of which deal with similar issues. Compelling stories are a great way to make your organization stand out from the rest.