Yesterday at the RallyPad, we had the privilege of hearing Tim Wagner give a wonderful seminar on storytelling. Tim has been a multimedia reporter for the UN, a film producer for the Public Health Institute, and a brand strategist for Habitat for Humanity and Kiva. Now he works with btrax, a cross-cultural marketing firm, and he runs Open Show.
Yesterday’s audience was filled with social entrepreneurs and nonprofit innovators, including Craigslist Foundation, Storytelling for Good, and New Incentives.
Here are a few fantastic nuggets from Tim’s talk:
- Storytelling is like dating. Being a storyteller means building relationship with your audience and involving them in your story. Great storytelling builds trust over time, and helps you move from “just coffee” to something more serious. Don’t ask for money right away; make sure there are other ways to engage people through low-commitment actions like sharing a video or signing up for email updates.
- Think like your audience. Tim is clear that this does not mean you should pander to your audience or change who you are. It means you should put yourself in your shoes and ask: “Do I care?” “What is boring?” “What is exciting?” Thinking like your audience helps you understand what media and storytelling techniques resonate most deeply with them.
- Stay minimalist. Good stories have “catchy, consistent, and clear” messaging. They focus on the one thing that you stand for that makes you stand out most. There’s no need to over explain your mission. If people want more detail, just make it available for them to find.
- Make it personal & universal. Cause storytelling must revolve around something that people can relate connect to on and individual emotional level, yet it must also help people feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves.
- End with action. Invite people to become a part of the story. Whether that’s sharing it, commenting on it, donating to your organization, or volunteering in some other way – don’t forget to ask people to get involved!
Here at Rally, we agree that storytelling is the most powerful way to connect with supporters and inspire them to contribute to your cause. (A little plug: If you’re curious how to share your story and raise money online, check out Rally’s fundraising tools.)
Thanks, Tim, for such a great talk!