Committed and inspiring storytellers are gold dust to a charity.
Someone who can talk with passion about the impact your work has had on their life, whether on stage to an audience, at a pitch to a corporate partner, on the phone to a journalist or in front of a filmmaker’s camera, will do more for your cause than any well-crafted corporate message.
However, while there are many well-honed donor engagement and retention strategies out there, we don’t see as much effort put into managing relationships with those people who donate their story. Yet these stories are the key that unlocks significant gifts and amazing press coverage.
We would love to see more thoughtful journeys mapped out for storytellers so here are some of our top tips for relationship managing your storytellers.
1. Official status
Is it possible to give your storytellers official volunteer status? If there is it means you can formalise the role and set expectations on what the commitments means. You can also offer them the same perks and gratitude that other volunteers receive.
2. Keep in touch
Have a contact plan. It doesn’t need to be anything formal, a quick email or phone call every few months is fine, it just means that they don’t only hear from you when you need them to do something.
3. Stay up to date
If your charity works on a serious illness issue, with people who have a life limiting condition or are receiving end of life care, then check in more regularly – things can change quickly and you don’t want to upset families with informal calls if they have recently lost someone.
4. Share success
Keep storytellers informed of where their story was used and the impact it had.
Consider offering training opportunities that adds value to their volunteering experience, and improves their skills as storytellers for you. Media spokesperson, smartphone filmmaking and social media training will all give volunteers skills that are good for them, and good for you.
6. Show empathy
Never underestimate how hard it is for some people to tell their story and relive trauma or difficult experiences. PTSD can occur from retelling traumatic experiences and some people are not prepared for the impact of telling their story. Think ahead and consider what support people need before, during and after storytelling.
7. Never underestimate the power of thank you.
Need help figuring out how to make stories work for your charity? Check out this article on strategic storygathering I wrote for Charity Comms.