[NPFX Ep. 29] The Future of Storytelling for Nonprofit Donor Engagement

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Welcome to The Nonprofit Fundraising Exchange, a podcast from IPM Advancement. Our mission is to empower nonprofits to succeed so they can make the world a better place.

Today’s topic: The Future of Storytelling for Nonprofit Donor Engagement

Donor engagement -- especially with younger donors -- is getting harder as modern donor audiences demand more from the nonprofits they support. In today's episode, Josh Gryniewicz, IPM's narrative strategist, explains how this shift in donor expectations evolved and why nonprofits must change the way they use storytelling to make donors feel like active participants in their mission and cause.

Time-Stamped Episode Shortcuts:

  • A true story of how storytelling created impact where data alone could not [2:18]
  • People are wired for story [6:17]
  • How donor audience expectations are changing and why [7:14]
  • Defining storytelling for donor engagement [9:13]
  • What fundraising campaigns can learn from the Marvel Cinematic Universe [10:33]
  • How to plan ahead when you don't have time to plan ahead [12:25]
  • Disrupting an existing narrative using a narrative framework approach [15:36]
  • Using storytelling to build trust [18:35]
  • Using storytelling to create a tribe of supporters [21:25]
  • How to enroll donors in a big vision without overpromising [25:39]
  • Using stories of individuals to personalize global issues [28:28]
  • Applying UX (user experience) strategies and technology to digital fundraising [30:35]
  • How to campaign internally to create a storytelling culture within your nonprofit [35:28]
  • The 2 most common barriers to more effective storytelling [38:17]
  • How fundraising copywriters can help create a storytelling mindset [40:20]

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Josh Gryniewicz has spent his career in nonprofit, initially as a crisis counselor and later in external relations. For over a decade, he has worked in public interest communication. As a creative, Josh has applied his craft to writing, spoken word, filmmaking, comic books, and other media. His nonfiction has been published in PopMatters, The Guardian, Huffington Post, and Medium.


Rich Frazier has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years. In his role as senior consultant with IPM Advancement, Rich offers extensive understanding and knowledge in major gifts program management, fund development, strategic planning, and board of directors development.

Russ Phaneuf, a co-founder of IPM Advancement, has a background in higher education development, with positions at the University of Hartford, Northern Arizona University, and Thunderbird School of Global Management. As IPM's managing director & chief strategist, Russ serves as lead fundraising strategist, award-winning content creator, and program analyst specializing in applied system dynamics.


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