An impact story is an authentic melding of data and empathy. Data by itself doesn’t change people’s minds or motivate behavior, and stories without data are just fluff. Funders today are looking for more than just a picture on a billboard; they are looking for impact.
We use impact stories to apply data that validates a specific and measurable variable that has been moved by these actions.
There are four key steps for crafting an impact story. Let’s dive in:
Step 1: Conduct Research
When it comes to crafting an impact story, it all starts with research. And when we talk about research, we are also talking about program design. Begin with: Is your mission statement geared towards impact?
- Put together an Annual Report that shows your year-over-year impact.
- Which clients have you most impacted?
- Which clients do you have the most data on?
- Pull reports.
- Use technology. Engaging clients with technology is no longer the future; it’s now.
Step 2: Set the Scene
Take a second and think about what happened in the past year. What’s going on in the year ahead? What goals have you set? What new challenges are you facing?
It’s helpful to do a SWOT analysis and think through your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can then come up with a plan to overcome any potential negatives and boost positives.
Step 3: Introduce Your Characters
Many characters come down to the people receiving services, the people providing the services and the board. But it’s bigger than that. Most nonprofits have donors beyond their funders, and most nonprofits are part of a community. And not just the broad, general community. This community can include other nonprofits who are serving the same people you’re serving. What other agencies are in your community that can better help you serve your clients?
Your impact story can be used to raise money; however, your story should also create awareness and connection to the reader, which is often missed.
Step 4: Frame Your Narrative
This step is where we put everything together. When we start to think about how we want to frame our narrative, we can get creative. It could be a big part of your brand identity, and it could go out across multiple channels (newsletters, social media, press) in various forms (email, blog, video).
What do you want to do with your story?
- Use it in Grant Applications.
- Share the story with your community to draw engagement.
- Post it across social media.
- Establish an emotional connection to secure funding.
- Keep it as a living document to stay updated.
There is power in how we share our impact and how we get our impact out in the community. Telling the story is easy. The hard part is effectively blending the data and impact into more meaningful stories.