How to write a compelling project story
Once upon a time, a charity like yours decided to set up a profile on Neighbourly.
What is it about storytelling that grabs our attention? Well, we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years; they’re more memorable than facts, activate more of our brains and make us twice as generous when it comes to donating.
So it begs the question – are you telling a story about your charity, and if so, what story are you telling?
When businesses and potential supporters arrive at your project page, they’ll probably head straight for your description to understand exactly what your organisation (or project) is about. This could be the make or break moment when they try to determine whether your cause is something that they want to align with.
You could probably write pages and pages about your organisation and the background of your project, but writing a compelling project story means distilling it down to its essence. Here are some ideas on engaging supporters with your organisation's story.
Why should people support you?
As someone close to your charity, you can probably think of plenty of reasons why people should support your organisation. Start by noting these down, as this will help tell your story.
Consider starting off with a specific anecdote
There’s a reason why many public speakers kick off with a personal anecdote – as humans, we’re wired to hear them! It also helps us to relate to and empathise with a scenario. For example, a story of someone suffering from homelessness might begin with redundancy, divorce or other negative life event that could happen to anyone.
What story would you like to tell?
You might depict a fictional person that represents your ‘average’ service user, or a real person that experienced true transformation thanks to your organisation. Perhaps that person is a volunteer, or you might want to explore the story of how your group came to fruition. Regardless of what story you choose, make it feel personal - your supporters are influenced more by their emotions than rationality.
How to tell a story
Traditionally, the story arc is a three-act structure: setup, confrontation and resolution. A good way to break that down is to introduce your character, a challenge they need to overcome, what action they took with the help of your charity (and donors), and finally the impact this has on their life.
Back your story up with facts
Once you’ve explored the individual’s story, zoom out and illustrate the trends at large. How many people are affected by this problem? Is the situation getting worse? What does the future look like for those affected if nothing is done?
You may have already introduced the great work your organisation does in the story at the beginning, but again, you can broaden the information out. How many people are you helping? How is that impacting society? What kind of future are you working towards?
Be specific how support will help
If you’re raising funds or rallying volunteers on Neighbourly, share exactly what this support will achieve, both in practical terms (such as renovating a space) and in terms of impact. This might be making your centre more pleasant for beneficiaries to be in, but also enabling you to help even more people.
Consider the person reading about your project
Why should they help your organisation rather than another one tackling the same issue? Why now? Remember that both people and businesses are looking to help causes that reflect their own worldview, so be clear on what your vision is.
Also, use language that your audience will understand. Your supporters might be emotionally engaged with your cause, but not an expert on the subject. Avoid jargon and always try to explain things in the simplest manner possible.
It’s always helpful to take inspiration from how other charities choose to tell their story. Take a look at the other projects looking for support on neighbourly.
Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.