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  • 03 May 2017
    A couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to an NGO for rescuing chained or caged dogs. Their Facebook page had sweet intros to all the animals awaiting adoption and featured photos of their daily activities at the rescue center. Over time, I got quite familiar with the dogs there just through their social media feed. Even though the organization is in a different state and I’ve never actually met the dogs, I felt a personal bond and continue to donate towards their well being, ever so often.   That bond is developed through the compelling power of storytelling. Well, sure, as a dog lover, I’ve always had a soft spot for those fuzzy goofballs. However, Storytelling can help get you build an emotional connection between the audience and any character by affecting their subconscious. Let’s have a look at how these subconscious effects come into play and the approach to making it work in marketing your charity. 1) Help the audience reach the conclusion One of the primary rules of storytelling is “Show; don’t tell”. Instead of stating facts about the good guy and the bad guy, the characters are introduced through their actions and decisions. We start to root for the protagonist because the story aligns our values and morals with whatever the protagonist is fighting for. Since the story guides our emotions through these subconscious decisions, the choice of which side we relate to doesn’t seem forced upon us. In a similar way, your charity has to let the audience come to the conclusion that you are working for something positive. Giving them facts and figures is fine but real-world examples allow them to decide whether they support your cause. 2. Offer a fresh take on a common story structure If you look closely at the overall story of classic books and movies, they are almost the same - a hero taking on something beyond their depth, a larger-than-life villain threatening to ruin the world forever and even parallel ups and downs of the characters as the hero journeys to save the world. But every time the storyteller gives their personal spin on the characters and what’s at stake in the world. This makes the audience stay hooked throughout. When it comes to your charity, come up with a fresh perspective to the problem so that people can imagine their contribution doing its part to lead to a better world. 3. Build trust through familiarity In stories, the protagonist is never someone very different from us. Even if the story is set in a different world or features characters that aren’t human, the storyteller gives them a touch of personality people can relate to. That is because when our brain encounters something familiar, it makes us comfortable. We are more likely to trust in someone that comes across as familiar. This subconscious effect is very important when it comes to building trust for your charity. Create a logo and an identity that people can recognise. Have an active social media presence and talk about the progress made through your activities. 4. Have stories of redemption to share A redemption arc is another classic storytelling element that makes the hero a star in our eyes - halfway through the story, the hero faces the main villain, loses the battle and, is often, left in a poor state. But being the hero, he doesn’t quit. The rise of the fallen hero makes us root for his cause even more. Share stories where your charity or someone you’ve worked with goes on against the insurmountable odds working against them. You gain more admiration for trying than for success. 5. Show how the world you are trying to fix is broken Storytellers make a point to drive home the bleak reality in store in case the protagonist fails. It is not a world people want to be a part of. In fact, it is made clear how the world will change and end up worse than how it was at the outset of the tale if the bad guy is not stopped. Projecting this dark future is important to ensure no one wants the villain to win. Of course, in the real world, the cause you’re working for might not be so dire. People will only be willing to do their bit if you make sure they can envision how bad things would be if you did nothing. Project the alternative and help the audience see how it will worsen the situation in the future. A lot more people will be willing to step up and do their part for your initiative. These subconscious effects are part of human thought and reaction. They have been used in storytelling for centuries to guide the audience’s emotional journey. Use these in your charity marketing to increase support for your cause. Augustus Franklin is the founder and CEO of CallHub, a California-based Voice and SMS service company bridging the communication gap for political campaigns and advocacy groups. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: 3 Ways Small Charities can get Expertise They Need for Free How to be a better donor in one easy step Developing a Fundraising Plan - Strategies and Ideas  
    6790 Posted by Augustus Franklin
Tips & guides 8,825 views Jul 16, 2019
Text Messaging for Storytelling & Connecting with Supporters

Good stories are personal. Great stories make your supporters feel like they are a part of them.

If your supporters can interact with your story in real-time–by making a donation or volunteering–it means you are giving them an avenue to get invested in your cause.

That kind of storytelling is uniquely useful for nonprofits. Your efforts as an organization directly help the people in your stories and involve your donors and volunteers.

So how do you tell personal, interactive stories? The ways you communicate with your audience is just as important as the story itself.

Choosing your storytelling medium

Traditionally, email, social media, etc. are all good ways to get your story out to your supporters. It’s efficient, letting you reach a ton of people at once. And it works, convincing a lot of them to make a donation to your cause. But ask them about the gift a week later, and most would have already forgotten all about it.

It’s evident in the numbers–The average nonprofit receives a repeat donation from less than half their yearly donors*.

A significant amount of supporters stop giving because they don’t remember donating and because of minimal or non-existent communication on the part of the nonprofit.  

Today’s donors crave and are more likely to remember authentic, personal interactions with the organizations that they support. 

Doing that means reaching out to people as individuals, and a channel like text messaging is excellent at that. 

Text messaging in the UK

Smartphone ownership is only set to grow in the UK, with a predicted 92% ownership by 2023. With the texting being so ubiquitous, it makes sense for charities to use texting as one of their primary modes of communication with supporters.

Another factor to consider is what donors really want from your communications. 

According to the 2014 UK Giving Report, 68% of respondents agreed that charities proving their impact was most likely to be valued by supporters.

You probably want to show your supporters the successes you have had in your campaigns.

The challenge is showing the impact in a way that reaches people. Supporters aren’t going to visit your website unless they have a reason to, and the standard email open rate is not very impressive.

Communicating the impact your organization makes towards your campaigns needs to be done in a way that is direct and likely to be seen. 

A channel that has a high chance of being read, like texting lets you do that and make your communications personal at the same time.

Using text messages to tell and promote stories

Messaging, whether it is through SMS, Whatsapp, or even Facebook Messenger, lets you have conversations with your supporters in real-time, without having to meet face-to-face. That means being able to provide updates on the people you are helping and answer questions as your supporters ask them.

Of course, it’s not possible to reply to every text in person. You could automate texts to go out based on keywords in the messages you receive and jump in whenever you need to.

Storytelling in the form of a text conversation

Having conversations about your charity’s missions and goals can be made more personal and persuasive through peer-to-peer texting. With a messaging software, a single volunteer can have around one thousand conversations every hour. 

For example, an initial text message could introduce them to your latest campaign and ask them if they would like to know more instead of asking them for a donation up front.

If they respond positively, you can send a link to your donation page. After a successful donation, thank them through the same conversation.

One thing to note about storytelling through text messages is that the story is in the form of a conversation. For it to be most effective, you need to keep them updated on how your mission is progressing, and how their support is helping your cause.

Keep your supporters up-to-date and invested with your cause through follow up texts. Your next text could tell them about the funds raised from the last campaign:

Your final update should let them know about how their funds were used and tell the stories of those who were positively impacted by your campaign.

Your supporters will appreciate your transparency and willingness to keep them looped in. An invested and informed supporter is more likely to make further donations or volunteer for your cause.

How else can you use texting?

An alternative to peer-to-peer texting is to use text messages strictly as a way to link to your blog and website. This can be a broadcast message to all your supporters, telling them they can learn more about your campaign by following the link.

There can be many other ways to use texting to engage your supporters. You can send reminders to campaigners and supporters to attend upcoming events and rallies (with their corresponding venue/timing details). Depending upon the volunteer’s role, you can also send texts reminding them of their respective duties on upcoming campaigns.

It is evident that telling a charity’s stories in a way that can bring in donors and keep them engaged needs nonprofits to rethink donor communications. Channels like texting let supporters talk to you directly and make them feel like they truly are an important part of your cause.

Augustus Franklin is the founder and CEO of CallHub, a California-based Voice and SMS service company bridging the communication gap for political campaigns and advocacy groups. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon.

*2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report