Four places to find stories within your nonprofit

If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you know that telling stories is a powerful way to connect with your audience and communicate your mission. But where do you find those stories? Here are four great places to start looking.

Clients or beneficiaries of your services can provide inspiring stories.

Working with clients/beneficiaries of your services gives you the incredible opportunity to connect with inspiring people and hear their stories. They may have faced unimaginable challenges but, despite this, have still managed to persevere and emerge with victory. 

One important note: it’s always vital to handle people’s stories with dignity, especially when dealing with trauma like homelessness, abuse, or something a client might be embarrassed to share (hear what we have to say about telling stories with care in this episode of our Nonprofit Storytelling podcast). 

Nonprofit Storytelling | Season 2, Episode 2

When people are open about their experiences, it often leads to greater understanding and compassion within our communities. Not to mention, it proves that your nonprofit is actually helping real people. Make sure you prioritize client stories!

Volunteers are also a great source of stories – ask them about their experiences with your organization.

They’re an invaluable asset to any nonprofit, providing regular support and enthusiasm to projects. Asking them to share their experiences with your organization is a great way to better understand the impact you’re making on the individuals and community as a whole. 

Not only does this involve volunteers more deeply in your culture, but it also creates a regular culture of storytelling that can help spread awareness of the good work being done. Volunteers themselves have likely benefited from volunteering, plus, it’s always fascinating to hear what exciting things regular they’ve witnessed. Don’t be afraid to pursue the stories they have to tell.

Ask staff members to keep an eye out for interesting stories happening within the organization.

As a team, small or large, it’s important to recognize the on-the-ground stories of engagement and progress that might otherwise go unnoticed. By regularly telling staff (and volunteers) stories of what their work has accomplished, you’ll encourage a daily culture of storytelling. Staff will start to be on the watch for interesting tales taking place within your walls – things others might otherwise never see – and being the one responsible for bringing a great story to leadership’s attention is motivating. So ask your staff members to observe carefully – after all, they’re on the frontlines every day – and find some way to recognize or reward them for their attentiveness. 

Look through social media posts and tags for potential stories.

A slightly more out-of-the-box idea, keeping an eye on social media posts and tags can be a great way to brainstorm potential stories that might lead to interesting story ideas. 

For example, create a post with a popular hashtag within your niche – or create one of your own – and ask followers to share their story with you. To take it one step further, you can even interview some who respond to gain more insight. With this strategy, you can reach dozens of people without leaving your desk! 

Another great place to start is reviews – either through Facebook, Google, Yelp, or elsewhere. See what people have to say about your organization, and if someone has a particularly interesting comment, reach out! You never know what they might contribute. Also, be sure to pay attention to shares from influencers or other news sources for changes and developments in your nonprofit’s area of focus.

If you want to use stories to take your organization further but don’t know where to start, let us help. Our team of storytellers is excited to work with you to develop a strategy that best suits YOUR needs.