We admit it. We’ve watched a crazy cat video (or forty). But, here at Social Impact Architects, we also find ourselves watching more videos on content relevant to our work in the social sector. And we know we’re not alone. Videos are fun and easy to share, and, unsurprisingly, they are especially effective communication tools. For that reason, we are excited to give you, our loyal readers, a sneak peek at our first TrendSpot (feedback welcome and appreciated)! This is the first in a series of short videos we’ll be sharing, and we’ll be covering the reader-selected topics you love the most! This first video is based on one of our most popular trainings – Storytelling.

We learn more and more everyday about why storytelling works and how nonprofits can use this to their advantage. To expand on the do’s of storytelling that we share in the video, we also wanted to share some of the don’ts.

I recently was honored to keynote the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in North Texas and shared my latest tips on “The Real World of Storytelling.” In addition to sharing best practices, which were curated through social media in a fun, user-generated session, I also shared the three most common mistakes in nonprofit storytelling. They include:

  • MISTAKEN IDENTITY: Focus on the Why vs. Who/WhatThink about your elevator speech. We bet you do what everyone does – start with who you are and what you do. This is a common mistake for all of us. However, in the social sector, people are most interested in the why of what we do. We should share how we impact our clients and communities first and once we engage our audience, share what we do and who we are. Trust me, they will be interested. Try this small tweak for one week, and you will see the difference.
  • CONFUSED IDENTITY: Focus on One Thing vs. Everything We also have a lot to say about our programs and our work, but let’s be honest – when we throw it all out there, it just confuses most people. To break through the clutter and engage people, it is crucial to boil our work down to the one thing that folks will remember. In fact, Maurice Saatchi of Saatchi and Saatchi, a famous advertising agency, calls it one-word equity. For example, the company MasterCard’s word is “priceless.” President Obama used “forward” in his political campaign. This may be tough to accomplish in the social sector, but I encourage you to identify the single word, or “big idea,” for why you exist and connect everything else to that one thing. Brainstorm your one word using our exercises.
  • STOLEN IDENTITY: Stories Exist No Matter WhatIf you don’t tell your story, others will. Do you want them to control the message, or do you prefer to control it? We recently worked with an amazing nonprofit on a strategic plan. Yet, when we asked its supporters and constituents to describe the nonprofit, the one word they mentioned most was “history.” While this is good for credibility and a great foundation to build upon, “history” is not a word that moves people to support a cause or organization. The nonprofit realized it needed to own its story in order to positively and more accurately shape its reputation in the community.


We hope these tips help you further refine the story you tell about your organization. We’d love your feedback on this video and ideas for topics or questions you have so we can bring you more compelling video content. If you enjoyed this video, please share it with your board, colleagues and other changemakers. Feel free to customize the sample text below:

EXTRA, EXTRA – @SocialTrendSpot shares video on Tips for Better #Nonprofit Storytelling

3 Mistakes #Nonprofits Make in Storytelling – @SocialTrendSpot shares free videos and ideas in latest blog

Tune in next week when I share my thoughts on my recent trip to Greece. We hope you are enjoying the summer!

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