The Magic of Storytelling

As adults, when we think of storytelling, our minds wander to the fairy tales of children. Damsels in distress and dragons that need to be slayed. Yet, storytelling, especially for schools and non-profits, is a tool whose value cannot be overstated. In fact, institutional storytelling is all the rage, with marketing agencies and consulting firms exalting its benefits.

So, what is storytelling, and how can you use it to elicit patronage from strangers? Well, storytelling requires going beyond explaining the mission of your organization, or using data alone to make a point. Institutional storytelling involves creating a narrative structure for your organization and creating protagonists out of the individuals who will benefit from a stranger’s generous funding.

Here’s an example to prove the point. Consider when you see local news coverage of a food pantry in need of donations and supplies. To simply state the location of the food bank and recite the number of individuals helped is dry; it fails to connect to an audience which otherwise has no association with the people in question. That is to say, strangers. Now consider the same food pantry, but this time with a story focusing on interviews with families that benefit from the food pantry. Let’s say the story dives into the ins and outs of these people’s lives, in the process connecting third parties with the needs of strangers. This rendition of coverage will be exponentially more successful in eliciting funds.

Schools and non-profits have incredible stories at their disposal. Personal narratives that demonstrate the hopes and dreams of individuals helped. By putting these stories at center-stage, your organization connects on a new level, and is much more likely to make the empathetic connection required to gain funding from outsiders.