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3 Things You Should Not Do When Writing About Your Nonprofit

The importance of storytelling is undeniable. For a brand that wants more exposure, using storytelling in marketing is a must. But how can nonprofits benefit from storytelling, and does it work any differently for them?

Writing stories for a nonprofit is different from marketing writing, but there are some similar principles. For example, just as a marketer shows the benefits of a product to consumers, nonprofit fundraising appeals and other communications need to demonstrate to show donors the impact their gifts will have.

If, however, you’re not sure about your storytelling skills, you can make mistakes that will cost you the attention of potential donors. To help you understand better how to tell your story, let’s look at three things you should not do when writing about your nonprofit.

1. Failing to Put Donors at the Center of Your Activities

When writing to potential donors, one important thing to keep in mind is that you need to let them know that their contributions can make a difference. For example, if you’re writing to donors who have already contributed to your organization in the past, you could say that through their contributions, they helped those in need.

If you’re writing to potential donors who haven’t contributed to your organization yet, you could focus on the specific benefits their assistance will unlock for people who need it. In other words, donors should be at the core of your communications with them to highlight that their gifts will make a difference.

2. You’re Not Keeping It Personal

Telling the story of your nonprofit is always about keeping it personal. Your story is unique and the reader wants to know about it firsthand.

One of the most common mistakes in nonprofit storytelling is relying too much on stats and reports rather than on experiences. “I’ve seen a lot of nonprofit organizations who overuse their data because they find it more convincing than the experience they have,” says Martin Jefferson, a professional writer from Top Writers Review. But for your target reader, whether he or she is a donor or website visitor, your experience is more important.

I don’t want to say that you should avoid statistical data by any means when writing a story of your nonprofit. All I want to say is that you shouldn’t rely on it too much.

What your story should definitely have is a protagonist. You can have several protagonists who are united by the same issue and share their experiences with the readers. Here’s an example of how Feeding America does it on their Instagram:

Instagram post by Feeding America showing an African American woman and boy. The boy is holding a turkey.Image credit: Instagram/Feeding America

You can do the same, and it’s a great way to attract attention to your nonprofit. Besides, all the stories of people you’ve helped are a great way to show your experience and let everyone know about the work you’re doing to help others. 

3. Your Call to Action Is Too Weak 

Often nonprofits use a call to action at the end of their stories. It seems that if you’ve written a passionate story about your nonprofit, creating an engaging call to action should be a no-brainer. But it can be more difficult than it looks.

Your call to action should sound more determined as if you’re trying to persuade yourself to engage in a particular nonprofit organization. You can use one of these call-to-action phrases:

  • “Can’t do it without you”
  • “Don’t just stand by, donate now”
  • “Do a right thing”
  • “We appreciate even a little help”

Or you can make it more personal. For example, The Task Force For Health uses strong statements to turn the public’s attention to the issue of providing flu vaccines to those in need:

the-task-forceImage credit: Twitter/Task Force

Again, keep it personal. After all, you know better which words to choose when it comes to engaging people to take action.

Final Words

Good storytelling is important for nonprofits. You need to tell your story to the millions of potential donors, and to telling it in engaging and motivating ways. Avoid these three common storytelling mistakes and maintain confidence in what you’re doing, and you’ll create the best emotion for storytelling.

Daniela McVicker is a passionate freelance writer and a contributor to Ratedbystudents. Daniela has studied social psychology and is involved in many nonprofit organizations to help them contact donors and raise funds to support their cause.

Topics: Fundraising Communications Donor Communications Nonprofit Communications