July 15, 2022  |   7 min read

How to Share Meaningful Success Stories

Everyone loves a great story, so tell yours! 

Hello again and welcome back to the Friday Five. With so many nonprofits and charities today, accomplishing your mission and helping others is only part of the work. To stand out, it’s imperative you showcase the amazing work you do! When donors see what is being done with their donation(s), they are more likely to be recurring donors. 

For this edition we will be discussing how to share your success story in a meaningful way. Here are 5 tips to do just that:

1. Choose Your Success Story

The first step in the process is to gather a handful of stories each showcasing a different element of the work meaningfully and successfully. Some possible topics might be a recap of last year’s impact, drivers of your organization / mission, or an interview from someone positively impacted by your work. Those impacted by your organization can be volunteers, members, the individuals you serve, or even donors. 

After compiling a list of several stories, evaluate them. When comparing stories, make a quick outline so you can have an idea of where you would take the narrative. A few things to consider should be the intended audience, where you plan to display it, and what was achieved/impacted in your story balanced against what you intend to achieve by sharing it. According to NonProfit Pro, an effective story structure can be broken down into four parts:

  • The Subject: Who or what the story is about.
  • The Conflict:  What was the challenge that is or was faced. May include origin story.
  • The Resolution: What steps were taken to correct the issues / problems. Is there more work to be done? 
  • The Result: Post mortem and reflection of what was achieved. 

The end result should be moving your audience through storytelling to understand the impact of the work and garner the result you’re expecting to achieve – donations, volunteering, increase in membership, etc. 

2. Location, Location, Location

No, this isn’t real estate, but location is always important. What do we mean by location? Good question! In this context, it’s where you choose to display the story. Will it be a focal point on your website, blog post, social media share, newsletter material, marketing collateral, or part of a board presentation? Maybe all of the above?

Each medium listed will necessitate a slightly different version of the same story, so think of how to share it in different ways for optimal success. Can’t do that? No problem. Another benefit of gathering stories at the beginning of the process is you can use different stories for each source. Multitasking!

3. Emotional Appeal

In what can be seen in almost all current marketing, emotion sells. Accomplishing effective emotional movement takes some planning, but can be done with proper outlining. Grab the reader’s attention with a strong hook by painting a picture which leaves the reader wanting more. To capture curiosity, you have to accentuate the point/plot with as many sensory details as possible. What was the setting? What do you see, hear, smell, even touch and taste if applicable. This helps to make the reader feel like they are actually there, a part of the story. 

Once the setting is set, you can move on to the challenges that were / are faced. What created this situation to begin with? Send them off with a resounding resolution which reinforces the great work you do and allows the audience to feel how they, too, can be a part of the work.

4. Be Genuine

Highlighting your organization is great, if not critically important, but how to do this without coming off as self-righteous or salesy? Tricky business. The easiest way to tow this fine line is to be genuine, same as you would be in your day-to-day life.

Don’t be afraid to expose the audience to the fact that not everything goes to plan. Tell the story like you are sharing it with a friend, embracing the struggle and rawness which can often accompany important work and events. It can be easier to support a good cause after understanding, immersivity, the trials and tribulations associated with it. At the end of the day, make it feel less like your organization is the “golden savior” and more like reality, which is you are working hard – every day – helping to make a difference in the lives of others. And you need the audience’s help. Incrementally as that might be.

In literal terms, this means pictures or graphics can represent many words at once. But what we really mean is an awe inspiring scene or a smiling face that glows with happiness can more effectively and efficiently convey your meaning greater than any verbal explanation.  

Images can be both of real life or actual events, or ones that are staged. Staged you say? What we mean is charts and graphs that can be used to display statistics in a way that can be easier digested. 

If you want to get really fancy, use an infographic to combine words and pictures. These are becoming more popular as they can be used on a website, as a marketing tool, or even in a newsletter. 

The point here is to be expressive with your language, but don’t shy away from using visuals where it will have maximum impact. People are, after all, usually pretty visual. 

So, that’s stories. A good one tells itself, but you’ll want to incorporate a bit of the guidance above to make sure you’re getting maximum value out of the emotional gold you want to convey. 

That’s this week’s Friday 5. We hope you enjoyed it and please leave comments/feedback.

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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!


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