The power of stories lies in the ability to touch the heart. Stories can make us laugh or cry. They create context and connection. And—when told well—they inspire us to take action. But where do we find impactful stories? And how do we collect them for use in annual appeals and other materials? In part one of our two-part series, you’ll learn how, with a little planning and promotional thank-you gifts , you can collect and craft stories that demonstrate your organization’s impact.
Create a culture of story collection
Heart-touching stories come out of events, donations, connections and people. But volunteers and staff won’t know you’re looking for stories if you don’t remind them on a regular basis. A few simple tools can inspire sharing:
- Calendar: Put reminders on your calendar before and after major events to a) ask people to be on alert for potential stories; and b) ask if anyone has a story to share post-event.
- Email: Send out a weekly or monthly email asking people to share recent stories.
- Meetings: Make it a habit to have “story time” every week or month during staff or volunteer meetings. For added fun, offer a prize like a traveling trophy for the best story of the month.
Make story collection simple
Many people struggle to tell their stories. Create a simple paper and/or online form that outlines the details needed to tell a complete story, including:
- Storyteller’s name
- Subject’s name
- Program/service used by the subject
- Reasons for participating in the program
- Impact of the program or service
- Willingness to be interviewed
When passing out paper forms, include a heart pen as a memorable nonprofit giveaway to remind people to share heart-touching tales.
When people submit stories, demonstrate your gratitude with a promotional thank-you gift. Chocolate stars are a great way to show storytelling superstars how much you appreciate their contribution.
When people agree to an interview, thank them with a nonprofit giveaway, such as a jotter with notepad and pen.
Create a database of stories
Once you start collecting stories, you’ll need an easy way to sort, search and access them. Organizing them in a Google® document or spreadsheet will make it simple to sort and find stories by topic when you need them. Categorize by Christmas stories, donation stories, or quotes and testimonials, for example.
Happily ever after…
A great story can show donors their impact. Or convince potential volunteers to take action. Collect volunteer and client stories with the help of promotional thank-you gifts that touch hearts while sharing your important work. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this two-part series that outlines how to share your volunteer and client stories.