While those within your business may know and appreciate the hard work and successes behind your corporate giving, storytelling can help you share them in a unique and powerful way with your community, followers and others outside your organisation. In this blog we explore the importance of storytelling and some tips for crafting stories around your corporate giving.
Why storytelling matters
“Stories are all around us. They are what move us, make us feel alive, and inspire us. Our appetite for stories is a reflection of the basic human need to understand patterns of life — not merely as an intellectual exercise but as a personal, emotional experience. Stories are the way to reach out to people and emotionally connect,” wrote Andy Smith, co-author of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media To Drive Social Change, in a blog on the power of storytelling.
“Yet most of us are used to the business-as-usual approach to communicating ideas, looking at the umpteenth Powerpoint bullet list or Word document. We may even build presentations that we ourselves wouldn’t want to sit through. Why do we do that? How is it that we such expert story consumers that we can confidently walk out of a movie after only a few minutes, but we often fail to recognise both the importance of a good story and the weakness of our own approaches to communication when it’s our turn on the stage? What happens if we move beyond business-as-usual, and start building content that is engaging and powerful, by harnessing the energy of the well-told story?”
The art of a good story
We couldn’t agree with Smith more. Want to tell a good story? Create content that shares the work and successes of the people behind your organisation’s corporate giving efforts and those that benefit from it. Tie it back to your business’s purpose. Bring a human touch to the stories; be truthful, memorable and authentic. Capture the passion of your team and insights into the positive outcomes achieved by their contributions.
We call this the Grow & Tell phase of your corporate giving strategy, an important stage in which corporates should be sharing the success of their CSR program with other stakeholders as a means of measuring, evaluating and growing their giving programs.
Consider, what was the most memorable and impactful part of your corporate giving? What resonated with you and your team? How did the beneficiaries respond? In developing the story, start by considering its purpose; its audience; the narrator (who is best placed to tell the story in a meaningful way? Perhaps this is a staff member or the charity you worked with?); the medium (i.e. will it have greater impact as a video or a blog?); where it will be hosted; and how it will be shared.
How to put this into practice
In addition to this, Smith suggests considering these seven tips when creating your story:
- Stories are about people. (So be sure to include some in yours!).
- Let your characters speak for themselves. (A better approach than you telling their story for them!).
- Audiences bore easily. (Don’t let your story do this to them).
- Stories stir up emotions. (So ensure yours does this).
- Stories don’t tell; they show. (A rule to create stories by).
- Stories have at least one moment of truth. (Make it an authentic one).
- Stories have a clear meaning (so know yours before you start writing your story).
A final thought to consider in crafting your corporate giving stories, as offered by US author and writing instructor Robert McKee: “‘Story’ is a business buzzword, and like most buzzwords it’s not well understood. Most in business confuse narrative and story. All stories are narratives. But not all narratives are stories. A narrative can be a process, hierarchy, or chronology, but these are not stories. A story is a dynamic series of events. A well-told story hooks attention. It holds attention and moves the audience to action.”
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