How Your Nonprofit Can Interactively Collect Stories

Posted on July 19th, 2022

Common Story Collection Practices (Fails) for Nonprofits

First things first, replacing your nonprofit’s primary communications with “out of the blue” requests for stories or testimonials will never yield results. When it comes time to collect stories, there are always horror stories about reviews, testimonials, and story campaigns where nonprofits geared up and blasted their network asking for stories. Out of the 6,000 blanketed emails, only four people shared a testimonial. Out of the four testimonials, only one was considered for use because it included an actual story. You may have had slightly better results but chances are, not by much. Stories are much more meaningful and robust when they are top of mind for the storyteller. This means blanket emails to large databases are destined to fail. They fail because it is likely that your nonprofit only recently worked with a small fraction of that audience in the last few weeks or months. The willingness to share is just not emotionally top of mind like it would be if that person had more recently interacted with your organization.

We have also heard that surveys don’t work. If you are attempting to capture a story, we agree. We do think surveys have their place but that should be presented to a storyteller only after their story has already been shared. Surveys however do not lead to stories being told. The point is, if you want to collect a story, you have to request that story in a timely, respectful, and interactive way.

How Proofpact Improves Story Collection

Proofpact ensures that you no longer have to fear the 1-star review or the “public negative review”. While we do allow for the storyteller to select either a positive or negative experience from the start, negative experience stories are never shared publicly and instead go straight to the nonprofit’s Proofpact story library. We do encourage you to then take action and remediate and give you the tools to do so. We promote upfront experience selection for the following reasons:

  1. So that you can meaningfully engage storytellers with positive experiences
  2. So that you can engage storytellers with negative experiences appropriately
  3. So that you can start to understand your brand’s reputation across all constituent types
  4. So that you can more quickly and easily share only positive experiences
  5. So that you can work to resolve the experiences had that are negative

Collecting Supporter & Beneficiary Stories Interactively

The best way to collect stories from your supporters and beneficiaries is by interactively asking for stories. After someone has interacted with your organization in person or digitally, there should be an invitation and an opening for them to share their story.

  • Do not request a review — nonprofits do not need reviews, and you do not need publicly critiqued.
  • Do not present a survey — you need stories (a net promoter score means nothing to your community)

What your nonprofit needs is user generated content that proves why your nonprofit is worth donating to, volunteering at, providing in-kind donations to, joining as a board member, signing up for an event, becoming a corporate partner, or filling out an application for employment. Oh, and generally why being an advocate is worth it too.

The nonprofits that succeed with interactive story collection are the ones who ensure that potential storytellers are presented with the opportunity to share their stories when the moment is right for them. If your nonprofit is able to organically determine those points of interaction within a user experience you will see an uptick in stories shared about your organization. Those stories will also be packed full of emotion and be more flavorful than the stories received as the result of a sporadic blanketed approach.

Spotting Organic and Interactive Opportunity

If you have a website, your organization has a tremendous opportunity at this very moment to start organically and interactively requesting and collecting stories. This is as easy as embedding your Story Collection form on various pages of your website. That is correct, one form embedded in multiple places will do the trick. Proofpact handles the heavy lifting for you like ensuring that the right content is delivered at the right time after a story is shared. We call these Engagement Routes but just know that it is as easy as embedding one form. If you have WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or any other content management system, it is even easier.

One of the most common opportunities to collect stories out of the gate is with your existing web forms. This means taking a look at confirmation messages or thank you pages within your current forms. We also have provided your organization with a review highlighting areas of opportunity which makes it easy to get started.

Take your nonprofit’s donation form for example. You likely use a service to do this and that service likely offers confirmation emails to be sent when a donor makes a one-time donation or sets up a recurring donation. That confirmation email is the perfect place to request a story. That service also likely allows for redirects after the donation is submitted. Redirect donors to a “Donor Thank You Page”. On this page, include a thank you and request a story. Ask your donors why they donate. After a donor shares a story, with Proofpact, you can set up an Engagement Route to be delivered to donors who have shared a positive experience story. The content delivered is what your nonprofit should be delivering to donors which can be many different types of content including video, additional forms, opt-ins, or additional data regarding their donation.

Strike while the iron is hot! This person just made the choice to donate to your organization and the reason is still fresh in their mind. Make sure they get every opportunity possible to share that reasoning so that others can potentially align with that reason as well.

Proofpact provides numerous tools you can use to request stories and ensure that the opportunity is always available. Use either your full or shortened Story Collection Page URL when sharing links. See further below for QR code suggestions.

Injecting the Story Request

Create calls to action on your website by embedding your Story Collection form! Embedding your Story Collection form is easy and can be copy pasted from here: Story Collection Tools. Doing so will ensure that if someone is ready to share their story at that moment, they are able to.

Here is a list of forms that your nonprofit can take stock of and find opportunities within:

  • Donation form thank you pages and confirmation messages
  • Facebook donation form messaging (Meta Blueprint for Nonprofit Marketing & NGOs)
  • In-Kind donation form thank you pages and confirmation messages
  • Volunteer sign-up form thank you pages and confirmation messages
  • Event registration forms thank you pages and confirmation messages

Here is a list of social sites you can add a story request call to action to:

  • Facebook Page
  • Linkedin Company Page
  • YouTube Channel (Top Links + Description Links)
  • Twitter Profile
  • Your nonprofit’s subreddit

Here is a list of places where your story collection QR code will get attention:

  • Doors to your building
  • Tabletop coasters at an event
  • Lanyards worn by staff or volunteers
  • Include it in a rotating display on the TV in the waiting room
  • Print materials (brochures, business cards, menus, playbills, posters, stickers)

Nonprofit Story Collection Timeliness

Continually requesting stories is beneficial to your organization for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, it keeps your organization top of mind and relevant and also helps you keep a pulse on how things are going. While Proofpact steers clear of ratings and rankings for nonprofits, your community is effectively rating and ranking you each day. The difference here is that the stories collected are actually able to be leveraged and used to attract new supporters. User generated stories help shine a light on the fact that your nonprofit is fulfilling its mission and proves to others that it is worth engaging.

If you are attempting to collect stories through email or text, be timely. It may be tempting to send an email to your database and get as many stories as you can out of the gate. We would advise against this. If you are going to send emails or texts, try segmenting by last known interaction. Give that segment a cut-off of the last couple of weeks or at most 3 months. Once you get past a certain date, the person that you are requesting the story from might be fuzzy about the information that they would be putting into their story.

Nonprofit Storytelling & How to Collect Stories (Overview)

Marketing user generated content is nothing new. How and why an organization would collect stories is what has evolved. Stories are the backbone of your nonprofit’s web presence. Community stories strengthen brand trust and validate impact. How Proofpact enables nonprofits to collect and leverage community stories is refreshing.

Have you not yet signed up for a Proofpact account? What is stopping you? It is free. There is no obligation and free accounts are free forever. It is our belief that equitable pricing does not mean a sliding scale for the same services delivered. Equitable pricing means that there is an entry point for all nonprofits to truly benefit from using it for free or paid subscriptions.

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