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5 Ways to Preserve Dignity in Content Creation & Storybranding (Nonprofit Christian Sector)

Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

The need to produce high quality and engaging content in a saturated market can feel overwhelming. Trying to stand out amongst a variety of brands, messaging, and products can be challenging. Selling the brand, cause, and experiences in the nonprofit sector comes with unique challenges that can be difficult to navigate. To meet the demand for new content and effective storybranding, we often find ourselves scouring surveys, photos, and emails from staff, looking for engaging stories that captivate the unique value proposition of our organizations.

In doing so, it can be easy to overlook the humanity in those stories; the heartbeat that makes them feel so authentic and engaging. The conflict a marketer can encounter is the need to promote a story without considering the people involved in those stories. Organizations lose their purpose without the very people they were created to serve. It’s important to understand that:

Just because we are part of someone’s journey does not give us the right to tell their story.

At Warm Beach Camp, we strive to change the lives of guests through authentic ministry experiences. We have been blessed to play a role in many different lives by: providing healing opportunities for adoptive/foster care families, presenting the gospel and providing Christian role models at summer camp, providing Christ-center hospitality for guest groups, igniting healing and development through therapeutic horsemanship, and so much more! Through these experiences stories are gathered and there is a temptation to tell every story, which we know of, about how our organization has touched a person’s life.

This moral dilemma is often overlooked; unintentionally creating hurt and distrust between the people served and the nonprofit, especially those belonging to culturally sensitive people groups on a path to healing from historical and present trauma.

It’s imperative to first think about those receiving service and their dignity and privacy before creating content and building storybranding strategies. These five tips can help the marketing of an organization preserve the dignity of those they serve.

  1. Trust in God first. Create content second. If we are truly to be His hands and feet we must first trust in Him for provision. Marketing is important but it should not be executed in a way that damages His name, the privacy of another person, or the brand of your company.
  2. Honor participants by asking to share their story. In surveys, provide a question that asks if it is ok to use their comments in marketing. Don’t presume that just because a person is sharing their story with leadership or through a survey, that it is ok to share that story publicly without their permission.
  3. Respect the choices of others. If you have an incredible story and the people involved say that they do not want that story reported, kill the story. Do not simply change or omit their names. Respecting people’s dignity and boundaries builds trust and partnership in ministry.
  4. Be open to change. If a story, quote, or photo involving a participant is published, even with a waiver, and they change their mind about the publication- do your best to take down the story. This is impossible for most print outlets but digital articles, especially those on social media, can usually be easily taken down.
  5. Create open conversation with your staff and leadership. Make sure you have a standardized set of guidelines that all staff and leadership can easily refer to when gathering and presenting stories. This should include general branding guidelines for external PR and also social media branding guidelines for internal users. This fosters healthy communication and accountability.

By remembering the people we are serving, we can become better servants. By respecting the people we are serving, we can become more like Christ. Our motivation must be derived from our passion to serve and our marketing from our motivation.

Kayla Stikeleather, Marketing Assistant & Graduate Student at Liberty University
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

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