Strategic Storytelling For Brand Building: How To Identify And Share Your Nonprofit’s Brand Origin Story

Madison GonzalezMay 26, 2021

nonprofit's brand

Once upon a time…

Notice how subconsciously your attention was just hooked? That’s the power that story holds.

Sometimes without even noticing it, our brain is activated in a unique and engaged way when a story is being shared. When it comes to nonprofit communications, mastering the art and science (yes, science!) of storytelling will help you drastically increase your organization’s revenue and impact.

As the old saying states, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

Good communication leads to better relationships.

Good communication is the secret to cultivating better relationships, and better relationships lead to real change. A good story allows organizations to build those relationships, win hearts, change minds, and prompt action.

As entrepreneurial expert Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, “Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill in business.” Additionally, Forbes names storytelling “the #1 most important career skill for the future.”

Why are stories so effective?

It’s brain science. Human beings are actually hardwired to connect to stories. As early as childhood, we’re taught to seek out stories to learn from through books, movies, music, shows, etc.

Science tells us that when someone is sharing or listening to a story, their brain produces several chemicals and hormones. One of those chemicals is Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone. In fact, oxytocin is the same chemical that floods a woman’s body after giving birth—it’s powerful stuff. Cultivating stronger bonds with donors, supporters, and the public at large will certainly have a positive effect on your nonprofit organization.

Stories add value to your nonprofit’s brand because stories take an abstract mission and make it personal. The best part? You already have your greatest asset: your story. Nobody can ever take your story from you, and it can never depreciate.

Applying personal stories to your organization helps humanize your nonprofit’s brand in a way that stands out from a crowd because it will instantly showcase your individuality. It’s important to share the stories of those you serve, and it’s also so important to develop a brand story.

How do you tell your nonprofit’s brand story?

Try to think of your nonprofit’s brand as a person. Your audience wants to see how they can relate to what your organization is doing and what you are saying. When you humanize your brand through story, you are able to shift the messaging from impacting bottom lines to providing real solutions for real human beings.

To demonstrate relatability, develop and share your brand’s origin story. An origin story will communicate how your organization started and the problem your organization helps to solve.

Think of a brand origin story in a three-act structure:

  1. The Set-up
  2. The Confrontation
  3. The Resolution

During the Set-up, you should introduce the people behind the scenes, starting with the founder(s). Set the scene for how everything came to be. You don’t need to go overboard on details, but help your audience picture when or where the brand got started.

Most importantly you will want to showcase the why. To do this, include the inciting incident—or the particular moment that set the story in motion. What pain or epiphany was experienced that prompted the organization’s founder(s) to create the answer to a problem?

The meat of the story, the Confrontation, will show what challenges were faced and what tension was built throughout the story. At the core of every good story is a good struggle. Consider what trials and triumphs are addressed by your brand. What trials and triumphs will your audience be able to relate to?

During the Resolution, demonstrate the “Ah-Ha! Moment” and answer any questions that were raised throughout the story. What changes were made to the situation or circumstance? Demonstrating solutions through story will help your audience be able to visualize themselves within your brand’s narrative and motivate them to increase their involvement.

When using storytelling to build your nonprofit’s brand, end your story with a call to action. Now that you have engaged your audience emotionally and helped them visualize what you have to offer, they are ready for action. Invite the audience to become a part of the story by asking an engaging question, giving them an opportunity to learn more, or making a pitch or ask.

Happy storytelling!

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Communication