Stories BETTER than Piglets & Puppies (Part 2)

Connect to convert: Nonprofit communications

Let’s be real: Your organization is one of the many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers.

In Part One of this mini-guide, I shared my take on why such emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. And cited a reliable litmus test for photo-story impact—1) If you’d share them with your family and friends; 2) would they “like” or share them.

But you can make emotional connections with your target audiences, even WITHOUT kittens and puppies.

In fact—if your organization is not an animal rescue or another organization directly related to puppies, kitties or babies—these alternatives are far more effective in helping your forge connections and motivate your audiences to give, register or volunteer. Most importantly, they are authentic, relevant messages, rather than manipulative click-bait.

Here are two tested methods, with examples:

For all causes and organizationsHighlight the similarities between your target audiences and your organization’s clients, participants or beneficiaries.

Connect Nonprofit Communications

Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page. Take the post at left, picturing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own families. Communicating around charged issues like this has the potential to scare supporters off, because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma.

By sharing this photo of an older resident (like your grandma, or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through, connecting us with the residents (I remember when my grandma read to me) in a positive way.

For policy and intermediary organizations—like the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty or Toledo’s Center for Nonprofit Resources (C4NPR)Connect the dots between your work and the individuals who are the ultimate beneficiaries:

It’s tough for “intermediary” organizations like yours—supporting others to deliver programs and services. Whether you focus on legislation related to a particular cause or support other cause organizations like, it takes audiences time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But, when you connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries (people!), that’s aa powerful and reliable shortcut to that vital “aha.”

The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page (see post at top). The Foundation makes it easy to get the connection between its work and individuals who benefit from its grants, for a real “aha” moment.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get detailed and personal, in words and photos. The close up (bottom left) of the little girl drawing is wonderful. I’m smiling just looking at it now, for the umpteenth time!
  • The details are what sticks (or not), and make your story memorable and likely to be repeated.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies or babies? Please share your recommendations here.

Review Part One

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Nancy Schwartz on November 3, 2015 in storytelling | 1 comment
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  • Ruth Kustoff

    Great read and love the emphasis on being authentic.

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