How Do I Tell A Great Story With Data?

Philip Manzano • Dec 22, 2017

Storytelling is a great skill to have. But it’s especially important in the nonprofit sector. The quality of your stories can have a direct effect on the amount of donations you can receive. The post How do I tell a great story with data? appeared first on Keela.

Storytelling is a great skill to have. But it’s especially important in the nonprofit sector. The quality of your stories can have a direct effect on the number of donations you can receive.

A Conversation about Data Driven Stories

What do you mean when you say “storytelling”? I’m picturing a bunch of people sitting around a campfire.

Well, that’s one form of storytelling – and it’s a fun one!

But let’s take it back one step and define what storytelling is. Storytelling is simply the practice of communicating a specific message to a specific audience . This means matching the medium to the people who will be receiving the information and making sure there’s a good fit. And while sitting around the campfire sharing tales of ghosts and goblins is definitely a popular type of storytelling, that only scratches the surface.

Storytelling is simply the practice of communicating a specific message to a specific audience.

What other types of storytelling are there?

Stories can take on many different forms. You can write them, you can draw them, you can photograph them, you can record them, you can interpretive dance them, you can sign them. It is a form of communication that is purely about the narrative, and extremely relatable to your audience.

So how does storytelling help me at my nonprofit?

Great question!

Everyone working at your nonprofit is a storyteller. You each tell the story of your organization’s mission, and you use different mediums to do it. Your communications department can write impact statements and reports. Your fundraising department could use facts and figure to paint their picture. The program managers become a living embodiment of your organizational impact.

Every single touchpoint that your organization has with people, tells a story about what your nonprofit does, and why it’s important.

Okay. So, I’m a storyteller! Now.. How do I tell a good story?

The best way to tell good, data driven stories is to tell a compelling narrative, backed up with proof. It’s a simple formula, and it works.

For example. There is a very big difference between these two stories:

•  The Toy Mountain helps put smiles on young people’s faces.
•  The Toy Mountain has helped bring smiles to over 6000 children by donating close to 8000 toys to those in need.

While they are both compelling stories – there is quality and context in the latter that helps the listener be moved to action.

So, all I have to do is throw in a few numbers here and there?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Stories only make sense if you pull the right data. Depending on how you use data can make or break your storytelling. Relevant stats strengthen your story . Irrelevant stats harm it.

When choosing the best stats for your story, don’t complicate things. Follow this  simple practice:

Stories only make sense if you pull the right data … Relevant stats strengthen your story. Irrelevant stats harm it.

There are so many numbers. How do I choose the right ones? Do I just go for the biggest numbers?

We are naturally drawn to bigger numbers. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best thing to choose for your story. To narrow down your selection and choose the right numbers, look at your audience.

Remember, the sole reason you are telling data driven stories is so that your audience will listen to it. So, when in doubt, do what you think your audience would enjoy the most.

Okay – I’ve got some stories to write.. Data-driven stories!

That’s what I love to hear. Happy writing!