Summer Project Time – Put Together a Collection of Stories and Photos

Another project you can do this summer is to gather stories and photos.  You’ll need them for your annual appeal, and can also use them in an annual report, on your website, and in your newsletters.

You want to have a collection of engaging stories and photos to use throughout the year. 

Show don’t tell
Many nonprofits try to explain their “programs and services” by using abstract and impersonal language. Tell a story instead. A story can show how your organization is making a difference in a concrete and personal way. Stories are a great way to introduce your organization to potential donors and show current donors the impact of their support.

Don’t just say you have opened a clinic in an underserved community.  Share Mary’s story.  Mary, a 68-year-old woman with diabetes, used to have to take two busses to see the doctor. Now she can visit the new clinic that’s a five minute walk from her house.  Include some quotes from Mary, or better yet have her tell a story in the first person.

Imagine you are a donor.  Wouldn’t you rather read a story than a bunch of facts and statistics?

Read on for more information to help you tell your stories.

Tell a visual story
You’ve probably heard the expression a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s relevant in this day of information overload.  Your donors don’t have a lot of time to read your messages, but you can capture their attention in an instant with a great photo. Engage Prospects With Visual Content 

Use photos that show your work in action – photos that tell a story. I love this photo from the Fresh Air Fund.  It really caught my attention the first time I saw it. FreshAirFundPrintPSA-Fundraising-BigSplashes.
Here is more information to help you create and use photos.

Work with your program staff
If you are making a difference, then you have good stories to tell.  Most likely you’ll need to work with your program staff to gather stories and photos.  They will either provide you with stories or give you access to clients that you can interview or photograph.  They’ll also help you get any permissions, if you want to talk with or photograph children.

If any of your clients are reluctant to share their stories, remember you can change their names to protect their privacy.

You do need to respect the program staff’s time and not approach them at the last minute because you need a story for your annual appeal.

Successful nonprofit organizations have good staff relationships where everyone works together for the people you serve.  Don’t get territorial and create silos. 

Here is more information on how you can all work together to share your stories.  Let’s Work Together – The Importance of a Good Relationship with the Program Department
Being organized pays off
I recommend gathering stories and photos at least once or twice year.  It’s okay to use the same photos and stories in different materials.  Often a familiar photograph can help with your brand identity.

By having this collection of stories and photos, you can easily find one for your annual appeal, thank you letters, or newsletters.

Photo by UNE Photos via Flickr

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