Do You Need an Ask? Let Your Story Shine Without One

Question mark on pink background

Here’s something to try for the next story you’re putting out about your organization’s impact:

Does it have a call to action in it? How about a request to donate, to volunteer, or to RSVP?

Take it out.

We know, we know. This goes against conventional wisdom. We’re often told that every piece of content must have a clear “ask” attached. But bear with us.

Your impact story can shine even brighter without a call to action and here’s how…

Build Connection Without the Ask

If you’re always asking for something from your audience, you’ll wear them out. It’ll happen at some point. No matter the story details you’re sharing, they’ll see it as a precursor to a pitch.

But what if your audience could simply engage with your story, absorb its message, and let it resonate without feeling pressured to take action?

Your storyteller’s challenges and triumphs will draw them in. They’ll get to celebrate and feel inspired.

That’s why we encourage our nonprofit partners to mix up their content by sharing stories without an ask. It helps them build deeper connections with their audiences, who get to feel the impact of the organization’s work in their bones.

“Your audience is already interested in your organization,” explains Sinikka Mondini, our director of client services. “They see a post like that, and it just instantly gives them endorphins. So, for partners, we always think: How can we make that kind of connection with their audience?”

Think About How You’re Sharing the Story

It’s not just about mixing it up to give your audience a breather. It’s also about strategic distribution.

Different distribution channels call for different approaches. This seems obvious, but you can get lost when you’re in the thick of it.

Social media, for example, is often considered a low-cost and fast way to get an ask out to an audience. But that’s not how people use social media, points out Sonya Schweitzer, our director of digital marketing. “People use social media recreationally,” she says. “Let them read something inspirational or see a nice picture without having to take any action.”

Bombarding users with calls to action on every distribution channel won’t get you the results you want.

That’s one reason we believe in a multichannel strategy’s benefits. When our partners do that, they can have certain channels like social media support other channels—meaning that they can afford to use certain spaces for relationship-building rather than simply distributing their calls for donations, attendance, etc.

Respect Your Storytellers

And let’s not forget our storytellers themselves.

When we tell stories about an organization’s impact, we’re often telling stories about real people who have faced adversity, difficult circumstances, and hardship.

By constantly attaching asks to these subjects’ stories, we risk commodifying their experiences. We don’t want them to feel like we’re just using their stories to get something from our audience. It feels transactional.

A healthy balance between stories with calls to action and stories told on their own is a key ethical storytelling practice.

Some Stories Shine Brightest Without an Ask

Don’t think that this is to say some stories won’t have an impact.

The stories you share without an ask are just as important in your overall strategy as those with a clear call to action.

By sharing a story with your audience without asking for anything in return, you let them appreciate a story on its own.

And sometimes those stories resonate the most. It’s the power of storytelling, plain and simple.

The next time you prepare to share a story for your organization, ask yourself: do you really need an ask? Or can you let the narrative stand on its own, letting your audience engage, reflect, and connect?


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