Curating Content: How to Leverage Stories from Your Community

At everydayhero, we work with a diverse group of people who are passionate and involved in raising funds and spreading awareness for the causes that they care about most. Through this, we have gotten great insight into the inner-workings of a variety of nonprofits and charities, and the creative ways that they connect with and reach out to their communities.

There’s one common theme that we see in all of them, and in our own community, too: the incredible stories of the people who are fundraising on your behalf, or even working within your organization. You know that they’re not in it for the money, or the recognition — their reasons for giving their all are personal, meaningful, and powerful.

We are constantly moved by the motivations of our community. What’s more, we have found that their stories are some of our most valuable assets. We started reaching out to our members, and asking them to share how and why they got involved and fundraising.

The result? We are now able to create appealing assets, on a regular basis, that increase awareness of our company’s mission. Our members who are featured in these stories get to draw more attention to the causes that they champion. And ultimately, we’ve created a community that feels more connected.

How do you reach out, and leverage the stories of your community most effectively? Here are our top 5 tips:

1. Set your goals, and create your content accordingly.

Your first step is to decide what you want your content to accomplish. Do you want to raise awareness? Reward your community members for successful fundraising? Inspire others to get involved, and feel a connection to your cause? We wanted to spur our readers to action. We felt that the best way to do this was to showcase the “spark” that inspired our members to get involved. By focusing on the emotional connection of the person to their cause, we are able to create a sense of empathy, and motivation, by the success that they have had in giving back. The tone, format, and focus of your content will differ depending on those goals. Set those out first, and figure out the questions that you want your members to answer.

2. Be honest. Be transparent.

When we reached out to our members for their stories, we were very clear about what we wanted to do with the information that they would provide. Specifically, we wanted to write a story about their experiences that would appear on our blog, share this via social media, and highlight their names, the causes they’ve worked towards, and their specific fundraising efforts. We also asked for photographs of their efforts to use in both blog posts and social media. In our early emails, we supplied them with a list of questions to answer, and also offered to jump on the phone or Skype to talk through things further. We wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with our approach, and with the parts of their experiences that we would be sharing.

3. Create a home to showcase these stories.

We knew that the stories we gathered would be the driving force of the everydayhero blog. Because of that, we wanted our blog’s design to really allow these stories to shine. We were inspired by Humans of New York, and the powerful, striking use of images. We knew that we wanted our site to effectively capture emotion in a similar way, but also wanted the words of our members to shine, too. By working closely with a designer, and staying true to our aesthetic sensibilities, we ended up with a site that our members could be proud to share. A part of this is focusing on how to put the aforementioned “spark” front-and-center, in both our storytelling and formatting (something HONY does very well).

4. Spread the word, and have your members do the same.

The best thing about having amazing content is the ability to share it, far and wide. We push all of our published stories on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — we’ve found that our social media following is receptive to these powerful, real stories. We also stay in touch with our members, and let them know when their stories have gone live. We encourage them to share the link as well, and ask them for their social media information so that we can tag them, if possible.

5. Champion the efforts of your community.

Through all of our story-gathering efforts, we were absolutely certain of one thing: we wanted to make everyone that we featured feel great about all of the work that they have done so far. Your community is amazing for the time and effort that they put in for your organization — let them know that you think so! We make sure to keep the tone of all of our stories positive, and put our member’s actions front and center.

Learn more about everydayhero by following them on Twitter.