In our work at JR Communications, we value storytelling with a purpose. When we partner with nonprofit organizations to develop communication strategies to achieve their goals, we help them find ways to shine a spotlight on their social impact — how their work is making a positive mark on the community.
It’s easy to think that this impact is just facts and figures that measure the organization’s outcome on a cause or set of issues. But communicating about social impact requires more than just telling someone the data.
To best gain respect and recognition, an organization’s social impact communications must form connections through storytelling. A comprehensive, purposeful plan is a critical piece of strategy that pays off across the board and can result in new development leads, donor retention, and community engagement.
Let’s explore the current trends in social impact communications.
Effectively integrating stakeholders across your organization into your communications strategy is a powerful way to share the differences your organization has made.
Having specific success stories ready to use for leaders in your organization (including members of your board and business development team) enhances their ability to connect with potential donors. At JR Communications, we work with organizations to create storybanks. These storybanks are collections of success stories that we prepare with the organization so that they are ready to share. We also identify where and how each story would be used. By organizing storybanks in advance, we can help ensure that these stories are consistent and align with your messaging.
Likewise, having key leaders in your organization participate in social media conversations about your organization’s social impact can draw attention to your initiatives and engage with your audience. Activities like these highlight how your leaders are committed to your cause.
There are other ways to increase stakeholder participation. In our work with the United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA), we have found success in sharing impact stories in bylined articles. Bylined articles that include these stories are more impactful, bringing more visibility for your organization and thought leaders.
As communications experts, we can share our experience and provide training for your leaders to prepare them to support your messaging strategy. By continuing to engage your stakeholders, you’re making them more comfortable discussing your organization’s social impact and raising their profile for earned media opportunities.
Meaningful stories about the direct social impact that the organization’s initiatives have on individuals in the community are more compelling than straight metrics.
Testimonials and success stories can be shared in all different types of marketing and communications media. Success stories fit into strategies for all audiences: donors, stakeholders, internal staff, and community members. At JR Communications, we also weave these impact stories into media relations strategies, such as op-eds and interviews, to bring organizations’ stories to life.
Who has been impacted by your organization’s work? How have they specifically benefited? Concrete, qualitative examples shape the story of your organization’s social impact and drive relationship-building with your audiences.
Data should be integrated throughout these stories; this lets important metrics and outcomes get across in a memorable way.
A final trend we are seeing is an increased frequency of communications related to social impact. As part of their overall communications strategies, nonprofits are including more frequent, smaller pieces that complement larger communications. Organizations can use a variety of channels (including social media, website updates, email newsletters, and direct mail) to deliver these frequent communications. This encourages engagement and helps maintain awareness of the impact that an organization has.
We know our partners need to get their messaging in front of the right audiences often enough to maximize their opportunities to reach their goals. Organizations that incorporate regular updates about their outcomes find more success at promoting their causes.
These trends in social impact communications can help an organization think of new ways to share the positive mark it has made. As nonprofits compete for the attention they need to meet their goals, leveraging these trends can help them stand out.
JR Communications has seen firsthand how building an effective strategy to communicate a nonprofit’s social impact enhances the organization’s ability to promote its cause and achieve successful outcomes. Putting in the effort to tell these stories is worth it.