Story Over Stats

How to inspire your donor base with Emotionally Engaging Content

We’ve all seen sleek info graphics presenting incredible statistics about a hot topic. But sometimes numbers can’t tell the whole story, especially when it comes to nonprofits. These organizations are chalk-full of emotionally engaging content that is not easily communicated through info graphics, no matter how creative the color scheme is. This is particularly true when you are trying to create a fundraising video that reaches the audience on a deeper level, a video that endures beyond the event it premieres at. So how do you come up with a story that will connect to the donor base and inspire them to give, without inundating them with bar graphs?

We recently gave a presentation on Video Storytelling for Nonprofits at a conference in Denver. During an interactive exercise where group members tried to help each other come up with a compelling story that represented their nonprofit's mission in some way, a few encountered roadblocks. They couldn’t get past the idea that a video had to revolve around facts and figures, to be used as a way to defend your organization to potential donors. We challenged that thinking by suggesting that videos are a great way to leave an emotional impact on donors and leave the stats to the annual report.

One audience member represented an organization that was made up of very few leaders and several volunteers. Their target population was made up of elderly individuals who had difficulty reading, and due to the nature of their service it was difficult to maintain long-term contact with their clients. How, then, could she find a story to tell? Further, her organization had relied on statistics-heavy content for videos in the past, and she had a feeling there was a better way to use the medium.

During our discussion, it was revealed that the organization had been around for 27 years. That’s a long time in the lifespan of a non-profit! There must be some magic there, we thought. What’s the story that can be told about the enduring success of her organization? It turns out one of the founders still held a leadership position in the organization. A simple interview with this founder, coupled with the impact the organization had on a few of the volunteers, would be a fantastic and compelling story. The video not only celebrates the history of the organization but honors the people who are committed to its long-term success. Celebrate your champions and give your audience (and potential donors) a glimpse into your organization’s culture and mission. They’ll become emotionally invested in your cause.

Consider using an organization leader or influential figure to communicate The Ask during the story, and follow it up with a written message at the end of the video.

Integrate the Call to Action into your narrative to leave an impression rather than treating it as an afterthought at the end of the video.

Nonprofits are unique because they have compelling, engaging stories built into their very core. There are ways to connect with your audience without having to set foot out the door of your organization. Think of the volunteers, leaders, board members, grantees, and target population who have been impacted by the work that your organization does. Celebrate those individuals and explore how the lives around you have changed because of your organization. You’ll be on the path to a more successful campaign with an inspired, connected donor base.

To learn more about how story-driven videos can help your organization, visit our website and check out our reel.