Data and Narrative – Why the Balance is Important
While meeting with During a recent discussion about mission-driven and fundraising communication, someone mentioned, “You can’t share a narrative without stats and you can’t share stats without the narrative.” This sentiment is a nice reminder to start off the year. Nonprofits must strike a balance when communicating the quantifiable effect of their work and sharing the stories of success. Most readers will recognize that this is true, but may not stop to consider why this is important. For fundraising-related communication both of these aspects appeal to different individuals.
Some donors are most inspired when they feel the human connection and hear the first-hand experience of those that are benefitting from a program or organization. For this group, the data is nice, but doesn’t mean as much as a real story that shares experience and perspective.
Others approach giving from with a “Spock-like” viewpoint. The human emotion isn’t important; they want to ensure that their contribution is having a statistically relevant influence on the society around them. To them the human stories are nice, but aren’t the reason to give – as one individual’s experience is less pertinent than the broader reach and effects.
These two examples are endpoints. Most supporters are somewhere between them when assessing motivation for giving. Balancing narrative and data ensures that you’re reaching all of your audience and addresses other important factors. Sharing data that is definable and relevant to your work builds transparency and trust. Sharing stories reinforces to your audience that you’re invested and connected to the experience of those benefitting from your work.
As you work on communication in the New Year remember why this balance is critical. Below are a few links from the last week that may be helpful for you.
- It’s resolution time! Ashley Thompson of NPEngage shares five resolutions for fundraising.
- Twitter received a mixed response when a rumor was published that they’re considering changing the character limit from 140 to 10,000. Ash Read of Buffer shares thoughts and reflections.
- Jimmy Daly of Vero explains why your newsletter may not be working and provides advice on making it better.
- REJOICE. Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 will likely be killed next week. Owen Williams of The Next Web has the details.
- Forbes published their 30 under 30 of social entrepreneurs. It’s a great read if you want to be inspired and hopeful (or feel old).
- Your long read of the week – Will Oremus of Slate explains how Facebook builds their algorithm.