5 opportunities to weave storytelling into your next event

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Telling your nonprofit’s story on your website or direct mail campaign is one thing — but what about through an event? It can be easier than you think! The key is to share a consistent story at every touchpoint — from your save the date to your follow-up communication.

Whether you’re hosting a traditional evening gala or a one-of-a-kind gathering (find inspiration here!), be sure to think storytelling through the following event elements.

Invite

You typically want to keep a save the date relatively direct. (After all, its purpose is to direct your guests to “save the date.”) But the invitation opens the door to a unique storytelling opportunity that you can then continue throughout your event marketing, day-of execution, and follow-up.

Your event invitation is the perfect piece to preface what your guests are going to experience — and why they should attend! In addition to sharing what the food is going to be like and if they’ll be dancing after dinner, also hint at what they’ll hear or learn about at the event and how they might feel during and after the event. (For instance, will their presence impact local children and families?) Be sure to not give it all away here, but provide a little teaser. Check out how we helped Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester accomplish this at their 2018 fundraiser.

Signage

When your guests are entering the event, waiting at check-in, getting a drink during cocktail hour — these are great opportunities to tell your guests something important about your organization. Whether you use printed or digital signage, integrate stories in an engaging way. Show pictures, videos, or relevant animations, and keep the wording short and sweet, so it’s engaging and easy to digest. Tell guests what their donations and support are going toward.

Spoken Program

It’s important to have key members of your organization speak at your event, as they know the history, they’re the face of the organization, and they can help make the ask for donations. But you’ll also want to consider having an individual speak who has utilized your services, been a part of your programs, or benefited from your organization. Sharing their experience firsthand humanizes the need for your organization by putting a face, name, and story to your call to action.

Video

Videos are one of the best ways to tell impactful stories about your cause. Whether they’re scripted or interview style, this is the perfect opportunity to share multiple stories in a quick yet highly engaging way. When playing these during the spoken program, you’re guaranteed to have the attention of all guests. They’ll hear the need and see your programs and services in action. Time your video to play just before you begin your cash call and live auction, so the visual of how your organization makes a difference is fresh in guests’ minds.

(Send us a note if you like this idea but are unsure where to start — we love digging deep, leading interviews, and art directing for event videos!)

Follow-Up

Regardless of the type of event you throw, it’s vital to reach back out to attendees after the event to thank them for showing up and supporting you. Thank them for their attendance/participation/donation and tell them how their efforts are going to impact an individual or group of people. You can also include more ways for them to stay connected with your organization or get involved!

As marketing and event professionals, we know there’s a lot to think through to throw an event with a happy ending. If you need help — from seamless logistics to unforgettable décor to needle-moving donations — contact us. We don’t just care, we get stuff done!