The numbers behind great storytelling

We all love a good story. We’re wired that way. We think in narratives all day long, whether we’re buying groceries or making a presentation at work.

That’s why it’s so important for your charity to think in stories. At its simplest, non-profit storytelling is about making your donors feel connected to something bigger than themselves.

In the commercial world, modern-day storytelling is often associated with the popular TED conference series and its slogan of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.

Analysis of the most popular 500 TED Talk presentations found that stories made up at least 65% of their content. TED Talks have proven to be a powerful delivery mechanism for sharing insights and ideas in a way that is memorable, persuasive, and engaging:

· Memorability: A study by Stanford professor Chip Heath found 63% could remember stories, but only 5% could remember a single statistic.

· Persuasiveness: In another study, researchers tested two variations of a brochure for Save the Children . The story-based version outperformed the infographic version by $2.38 to $1.14 in terms of per participant donations. Various statistics on the plight of African children were far less persuasive than the story of Rokia, a seven-year-old from Mali, Africa.

· Engagement: Researchers also discovered people enter into a trance-like state, where they drop their intellectual guard and are less critical and sceptical. Rather than nit-picking over the details, the audience wants to see where the story leads them.

No matter how far technology platforms for delivering content progress in the next few years, people will still be drawn to the same fundamental things. We’re drawn to narratives and stories that make us feel fundamentally human.

And no matter what fundraising or marketing methods that may come and go, thousands of years of recorded history indicate that stories are here to stay.