One of the threads I saw running throughout The Ideation Conference (you can find other reflections here) was the importance of good storytelling.

Many (most?) nonprofits struggle to raise awareness for their work, find donors and raise support.  From organizations such as Invisible ChildrenOne Day’s Wagescharity: water, and Nuru International, it is clear that communications is not a nice touch to throw on at the end if your organization has time, but a crucial part of the work itself.

Stories that grip people’s hearts will naturally lead to participation and contribution.  And telling those stories requires a willingness to invest.

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Telling Effective Stories

charity: water consistently produces high-quality videos to communicate not only what they do, but why they do it.  Here is a recent example:

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This brilliant motiongraphic video from Nuru International was produced in-house and explains simply some of the complexities of their work:

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Tell Your Story

Now, most of our organizations are not well-connected enough to have the director of Hotel Rwanda direct and Jennifer Connelly star in a promotional video pro bono for us, but similar principles can guide even the smallest teams. If you were to sit down with a friend, how would you answer the following questions in a compelling way:

Why do you believe in your work? Why should your friends & family?

One of the speakers at The Ideation mentioned that, if you can’t get your immediate family behind your idea, then maybe you need to re-think things a bit.

Via marketing maven and all-around social networking guru @decart, here are some useful tips on creating a hook for your story and engaging your members.

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Invest In Your Creatives

Among both charity: water and Invisible Children’s first hires were their creative teams (or, at the beginning, creative person).  As charity: saw the need for telling their story through videos, their creative took on the task of learning how to edit video, and they grew from that point.

At The Ideation, I met and/or connected via Twitter with many talented videographers, graphic designers and organizational consultants (as well as in-house creatives) who passionately care about people and finding ways to create a better world.  If your organization does not have the capability to produce creative content on your own, there are many who can help you out (at a reasonable cost).

In any case, organizations must be willing not only to invest financially in communicating their stories, but also in time, imagination and hard work.

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