One of the best ways to explain your nonprofit’s work is by sharing client success stories.
This can be done through a blog post, social media post or a video. Sharing success stories allows you to spread the word about your programs, which allows you to help more people, enlist more volunteers, and engage new and current donors.
What Makes a Success Story
Every success story has three distinct parts.
- What was the client’s life like before they got help?
- What did your nonprofit do to help?
- What is their life like now, after receiving help?
Good success stories go beyond just sharing the facts and paints a picture of what the client is really like. These stories will have a dramatic difference between the beginning and end of the story.
How to Tell the Story
How you tell the story will depend on your resources. The following explanation details how we share stories in my roll as Marketing and Communications Manager at Catholic Charities Community Services.
Once a team member at your nonprofit identifies a client who would be a good success story, they should ask the client if they are willing to have their story shared. If so, a Social Media Release form must be filled out by the client and kept in the client file. The second step is to get the story.
This can happen a few different ways.
- The marketing or PR team can write the story.
- The case manager can write the story.
If someone on the marketing team writes the story they need to understand the client background, the types of services they received, and the success the client found through our services. The case manager should make sure the person writing the story understand the process the client went through. In some cases, the marketing team will want to reach out and interview the client as well. The case manager should make sure the client in comfortable with this and understands what will happen.
If the case manager writes the story, they will have to share more details than are typically found in their reports. It is important for the reader to be able to visualize the client in their mind.
The marketing team will edit the story for grammar, format, length and to stay within your nonprofits style guidelines.
If possible, use a few photos of the client to accompany the story.
In some cases, a video may be the best way to tell the story. Videos are much more labor intensive. In addition to a decent camera, you’ll want to make sure you’ll have good lighting, sound and editing equipment. You may want to hire a videographer for this.
Protecting your client’s confidentiality is a priority. Clients must have a signed release form on file before we can share any of their information. You should never share clients information without their permission. You may find it helpful for the client to choose how much of their information to share. This includes:
- Real or fake name
- Real photo or stock photo
- Specific details like age, occupation, etc.
Sometimes information can be kept intentionally vague. Other times, you can change the details to protect the client’s identity but still keep the integrity of the story.