Summary: Becca Delaney Johnson from The Cause Collaborative speaks with Host Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions about why telling your nonprofit story is so important not just for your donors but also for your internal team. In fact, you should not be moving onto grant writing, new fundraising, or any other part of growing your nonprofit until you have your compelling story created and ingrained in your culture.
The Authenticity and The Why
The nonprofit storytelling world has become the new norm because of the authenticity of the story that can really speak to the audience in a way. The authenticity of a story really matters and it can resonate with someone. As a company, telling the truth is something that everyone should always stand by. Nonprofit storytelling is about making people understand the purpose behind a certain organization. The authenticity of nonprofit storytelling answers questions about why the nonprofit exists, what they’re here for, and where the community would be without them.
It is very important to understand the story behind the culture and why the company exists as much as what the nonprofit actually does. Building a successful nonprofit organization should start with why it even exists in the first place, then understanding the nonprofit culture, then building the non-profit mission. These are the keys to a business you need for a long-lasting business. The purpose behind the organization involves the people who are being targeted. It drives who the audience is and where you focus all the energy at. The reason for a business comes from the leaders of the non-profit who then hire the right people that understand the purpose of the nonprofit. Why people do the work they do for the nonprofit is very important to know.
Developing the Story
The collection of stories is the foundation of the big picture that is nonprofit storytelling. The hard questions that are asked about the nonprofit such as the mission and why is the work being done make people dig deep to get to the very root of why the nonprofit even exists. The tangibles are the collection of stories. Stories that matter to clients need to be collected. The value of metrics also matters when getting to the root of the story. Interviewing is done to ensure every nonprofit has a unique story for hiring Becca’s nonprofit. Her nonprofit helps create tools to help other nonprofits have that skill set to create and capture their own stories.
For identifying and understanding the audience you have to start with personal work. For example, if you want more donors you have to tell the story of donors in the first place. It’s all about authenticity and putting out what is needed in order to get what is wanted. A problem that occurs is there is no one to reach out to people to get these specific stories. This problem occurs in both small and large nonprofits. This is why a donor database is needed so you can maintain your data and also collect stories from clients.
Relevancy in the community
Nonprofit storytelling is important to stay relevant to meaningful stories and your nonprofit strategic plan for nonprofits must evolve to stay on top in the community. The same stories cannot keep being used for decades and they have to stay true to what is going on in the world right now. The way people told their stories 10 years ago for funding isn’t relevant for why a nonprofit might need funding today. You need to find ways to stay relevant in today’s society to attract donors that can fund your nonprofit. Especially since every nonprofit is going virtual which makes it harder to stay relevant. The story about the coronavirus which caused everything to go virtual can be used to stay relevant. Donors will be attracted to a nonprofit if they know the work applies to what’s happening right now especially during the pandemic.
What Nonprofits Can Learn
Nonprofit organizations can learn from for-profit businesses and start taking more risks for growth purposes. For example, they can slow down and create a business plan to further document how the future would look for the 3 to 4 years down the line. Nonprofits should be more confident in contacting people for any plans they might have. As long as you talk with purpose and try to make an impact by telling a specific story that people cater to; you should confidently be out there talking to people trying to get funds for your nonprofit.
Nonprofit Storytelling Norm in the Future
There are two ways of how the nonprofit storytelling norm could be different in the future. One of them being content marketing. This term could be talked about more in the future because it is up and coming right now. It is becoming the new specific content strategy that is being used today. Content marketing is mapping out your content in a specific way and is all about the distribution of your content. A site map is something that is made before making a legit website. Content marketing is all about the accessibility of a website and what it looks like. An example of content marketing includes the search engine of a website. Content marketing isn’t easy because you need a purpose for using it. It takes a lot of time and energy to conduct something with content marketing. The number one most important thing with content marketing is you have to be able to measure everything. The data from the website is very important because you have to be able to track down where someone clicked from.
Another way the nonprofit storytelling norm could change in the future is a collaboration between communities and a nonprofit making a hub that is more resourceful and knowledgeable about nonprofits in that community. This ensures that nobody is duplicating any nonprofits in the community with the same idea so every nonprofit is one of a kind. This is a trend that needs to happen because there shouldn’t be 5 nonprofit organizations with the same idea and purpose within one community. It is a good idea because there won’t be any nonprofits trying to get the same funds as their duplicates. This is where collaboration comes in where there is just one nonprofit in one community that can just get the funds and it can be done together instead of duplicates.
About the Guest Becca Delaney Johnson, from The Cause Collaborative
Becca is a fearless leader with endless energy, who brings big ideas to the table, strategic/creative vision for project execution, and has a knack for putting smart teams into place. Before jumping out to start her own company, Becca gained marketing, event, and business experience from both higher education and ad agencies. She is an adjunct professor at St. John Fisher and RIT teaching Internet Marketing and Introduction to Advertising. Becca received her Bachelor’s in Communication & Journalism from St. John Fisher College and her Master’s in Communication and Media Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology. She received the 2020 Rochester Business Journal 40 Under 40 award for exemplary leadership and community service.
About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions
Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of loans for nonprofits in the form of Lines of Credit to nonprofits. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Stephen lives in New Jersey with his wife, Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.
10% of profits from Financing Solutions is donated to charity.