The power of storytelling is in all of us

Our team at Donordigital is buzzing about this wonderful video and discussion guide on storytelling published by Lean In, a global community committed to offering women the encouragement and support for their ambitions.

Storytelling seems to be going through a resurgence these days and it’s well deserved. Storytelling is as old as direct response fundraising itself. At its core, storytelling is about putting a human face and an emotional narrative behind an issue, so that numbers and programmatic activities can come to life with drama and personality.

The specific story in this video is about the very important issue of bone marrow transplants in Asia, and the narrator Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, does a wonderful job describing how storytelling played a critical role in harnessing human energy to solve a real medical challenge.  As you keep watching, Dr. Aaker shares some instructive insights into the art, science and power of storytelling.

We learned a long time ago in the direct response business that a personal story that tells an organization’s story is often the best way to persuade supporters to join a cause and to become a donor.  That’s one of the reasons why those direct mail letters are so long — because we’re so busy trying to weave a tale that will pull in the reader.

In the online world, we also use storytelling to get supporters and donors excited about a cause.  Sometimes that takes the form of a multi-part email campaign that stretches over several weeks or months to bring the reader along in the experience of solving real world problems.  We also like to use photographs, videos, interactive maps, special website landing pages, and infographics to draw in the viewer more deeply into the content.  And as always we’re thinking — how can we engage our supporters in an authentic and powerful manner to understand this issue more deeply and personally?

So, watch this video and download the discussion guide, and learn to tell stories that advocate your ideas and bring others along with you.

Dan Doyle is the President and CEO of Mal Warwick | Donordigital