nonprofit storytelling

AnnieEscobarHeadshot-WordpressGuest blogger Annie Escobar has created over 60 videos for over 30 purpose-driven organizations. She believes there is more good than bad in our world, and she’s driven to share the stories she hears that prove it.

When an organization comes to me and says, “We want a video about our program,” I always cringe a little bit. Many non-profits fall into what I call “The Program Trap.” Their videos focus too much on what they do, instead of why they do it.

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Nancy Schwartz on August 8, 2013 in Video | 2 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

This is the last in my six types of stories your organization has to tell series on how to find, shape and share your strength story. Strength stories showcase how your organization’s particular focus or approach adds value to the community you serve and/or and moves your issue or cause forward in a way unmatched by other orgs (a.k.a. differentiation).  

Guru-of-most-things Seth Godin recently summed up the value of differentiation: If there’s not at least one thing that’s distinctive about your organization—OR if you have that unique strength but don’t highlight it—you’re toast. Prospects will think you’re just like every other nonprofit, and that’s death to us marketers and fundraisers.

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Nancy Schwartz on June 11, 2013 in storytelling | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

I’m a sucker for stark contrast. It’s one of the best learning tools ever, and today I’m drawing on examples from  Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP).

The Challenge
MMP supports and strengthens mentoring programs in Massachusetts and faces this marketing challenge common to every organization that doesn’t provide direct services:

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Nancy Schwartz on May 15, 2013 in storytelling | 5 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling # 1-9

Stories are at the top of the format heap right now, because they work. Although they’ve been around forever (the Lascaux cave paintings in SW France are  17,000 years old), most of us still thrill to good stories on pages and screens.

Why We Respond to Stories
Stories help us make sense of a world that can be hard to understand. Lisa Cron, author of the wonderful Wired for Story, clarifies that stories drive emotions and emotions drive decisions. We count on our emotions to help us break through the clutter of the 3,000 messages we’re bombarded with each day.
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Nancy Schwartz on April 25, 2013 in storytelling | 2 comments
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TechSoup Digital StorytellingHere are two absolutely irresistible (and free) ways to build your storytelling and video skills.

1) Jump into the free training offered right now with the Tech Soup Digital Storytelling Challenge, and submit your video by April 30.

Ready to change the world with a story? So is TechSoup, which is dedicated to providing your nonprofit, library, or charity with the resources it needs to tell its story.

Participate in these no-charge interactive trainings (listed below) to learn valuable storytelling and production skills, then create your own story to enter the challenge by April 30.
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Nancy Schwartz on April 5, 2013 in storytelling | 3 comments
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AnnieEscobarHeadshot-WordpressGuest blogger, Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.

Creating engaging, sharable videos doesn’t seem to come naturally for most nonprofits and I think I know why.  Instead of highlighting naturally dynamic stories about people, nonprofits tend to create videos about programs.

I call this The Program Trap.

Your organization’s job is to run your programs well. That’s why you care about the details of how they are run. But your audience is hungry for meaning, belonging and purpose.  They want to be a part of something that matters.

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Guest Blogger on March 29, 2013 in Video | 4 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

This last post in my six types of stories your organization has to tell series illuminates how to find, shape and share your future story—the tale of where your organization’s work will take your issue or cause, beneficiaries and supporters.  

Future stories (a.k.a. vision statements) can be very powerful but are rarely told. Future story power comes in bringing to life—in a tangible, visible, visual and personal way—what is most frequently left as a vague, abstract and overly-wordy concept (if your organization even has a vision statement at all).

When done right, future stories have perhaps the greatest potential of all story types to hook your people at a gut level and motivate them to take the actions you need because you’re putting your dreams out there making it easy for them to link their dreams to yours! 

The great thing is that every one of your organizations has a future story ready to be shaped into a powerful movement-building tool, whether you have articulated a vision statement or not. So do it!

Here’s one of the best future stories I know:
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Nancy Schwartz on March 20, 2013 in storytelling | 2 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

Today you’ll learn to shape and share another of the six types of stories your organization has to tell—the stories of the people who support your cause and make your goals come true.

People stories are hugely valuable in moving people to take the actions you want. Craft these stories to make it easy for your prospective donors, partners and more to stand in the shoes of your current supporters, and they’re golden.

Remember, you have many of these people stories to tell, and the potential for using them to move your people to the actions you want is huge. Here’s how to develop them most powerfully:

Two Aha! People Stories—
They make it easy for your prospects to see themselves in these peoples’ shoes
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Nancy Schwartz on March 6, 2013 in storytelling | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

Today I’m going to show you how to shape and share another of the six types of stories your organization has to tell—your success stories.

Success stories (a.k.a. impact stories) are the stories most frequently told. And, when done right, these stories are unequaled in showing the value of your organization’s work in moving your issue or cause forward and matching the personal goals of prospects and supporters. 

The great thing is that you have many of these success stories to tell, and the potential for using them to move your people to the actions you want is huge. So invest the time and effort it takes to do them right.

Two Aha! Success Stories—
Showing the Before and After in a Memorable Way
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Nancy Schwartz on February 27, 2013 in storytelling | 2 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

Today I’m going to show you how to shape and share another of the six types of stories your organization has to tell—your focus story. This is so vital in connecting your work and impact with what matters to your prospects and supporters, so make sure to do it right.

Warning: Telling a good focus story is particularly challenging (and especially important vital) for policy organizations, intermediary organizations (e.g. community foundations, United Ways, nonprofit support orgs and others that help nonprofits do their work better and more broadly) and really, for most organizations that don’t provide direct services. Here’s how to do it well.

The Typical Nonprofit Focus Story
Is your focus story as inaccessible (and boring, let’s just say it) as this one?
Many are, especially for the organizations that need strong focus stories to clarify what they do and why folks should care.

 Nonprofit Storytelling Don't

 What? I don’t even understand this. It makes me tired.

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Nancy Schwartz on February 20, 2013 in storytelling | 0 comments
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