A great interview can change the world.
- Michael Jackson, after refusing to be interviewed for the past 14 years, sat down with Oprah in 1993, reaching 62.3 million viewers.
- The Duke & Dutchess of Sussex, after removing themselves from the Royal Family, took an interview with Oprah in 2021 to share their story. This reached 49.1 million viewers.
- Monica Lewinsky, coming out of the storm over her relationship with President Bill Clinton, was interviewed by Barbara Walters in 1999. It reached 48.5 million viewers.
- Richard Nixon, after spending more than two years away from public life following his resignation, agreed to a series of interviews by David Frost in 1977. They reached 45 million viewers.
These are the four most-watched interviews in modern history. If you weren’t one of the millions who watched them live, then you certainly caught the iconic moments in the headlines.
For me, the most captivating interview I witnessed live was Oprah’s 2013 interview with Lance Armstrong.
There he was – A cancer survivor and athletic phenom that inspired a generation with his incredible comeback, admitting for the first time that he had used illegal performance enhancing drugs to win his 7 Tour de France titles.
As someone who had read all of his books and wouldn’t even consider leaving the house without sporting my Livestrong bracelet, I was devastated.
Here’s what I learned:
- Sometimes, your idols are NOT as awesome as they seem.
- A great interview can change the world. (Did I already mention that?)
Let’s put my devastation aside, and consider how this amount of emotion was evoked. The answer is through compelling questions posed by the interviewer.
And in many ways, nonprofits that are looking to tell great stories also must channel their inner interviewer by asking the best questions that will elicit the best stories and, ultimately, the best content.
Community-generated content (CGC) is one way to tell your organization’s story and highlight the important, mission-driven work you’re doing. But not every volunteer, employee, beneficiary, grant recipient, program participant and donor is a natural-born storyteller. Therefore, asking the right questions can make a real difference in getting that memorable, compelling, shareable content that plays so well on social media, in news stories, as well as with your organization’s key stakeholders.
Think about the process like this: Great questions → Great stories → Great content
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 20 interview-style questions to help guide even the most novice storytellers to harness incredible CGC.
20 Nonprofit Storytelling Interview Questions:
- How has your life been impacted by (your organization)?
- How has (your organization) impacted the lives of others?
- How did (your organization) help you overcome the challenges you were facing?
- How does volunteering with (your organization) make you feel?
- Where would you be today without (your organization)?
- Who at (your organization) has helped you the most?
- What impact has (your organization) had on our community?
- Tell us about the first time you volunteered with (your organization).
- What’s the most rewarding part about working with (your organization)?
- What would you say to someone who’s thinking about donating to (your organization)?
- What was it about (your organization) that inspired you to volunteer/donate?
- What’s your favorite thing about working for/with (your organization)?
- There are a lot of nonprofits out there — what is so special to you about (your organization)?
- How is (your organization) helping people in our community?
- Tell us about the people (your organization) serves and why it’s so important.
- What kind of relationships and connections have you built through (your organization)?
- What gap does (your organization) fill in our community?
- What makes volunteering with (your organization) worth it?
- What advice do you have for people who are interested in learning more about (your organization)?
- How does (your organization) make our community a better place?
While not every one of these storytelling interview questions will work for every campaign, they should get the wheels turning as you create your next storytelling campaign.
I suggest you use MemoryFox to make the process even more simple! By taking time to craft — and incorporate — great questions from the outset of your campaign, you’ll be saving yourself time and frustration down the road.
About the Author
Marketing Manager, MemoryFox
Carly comes from the nonprofit world ready to elevate the hundreds of nonprofits in the MemoryFox community. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Wily Network’s Young Professionals Association, and has previously held positions at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the Code of Support Foundation, Kenya Lacrosse Association, and the BOMA Project, where she has specialized in marketing, communications, and fundraising. Storytelling has been an integral part of each role.