You naturally want family and community members to get excited about your program. Although it’s easy to become wrapped up in communicating your program’s value to potential donors and partners, family engagement is just as critical.

When families are involved, they’re more likely to report higher satisfaction and return to your program. Plus, engaging family members also engages the larger community, ultimately attracting the interest of donors and partners.

The question is: How can you capture your program’s story in a way that resonates with parents and guardians and boosts family engagement? Storytelling is key.

The Importance of Family Engagement Through Storytelling

Engaging family members starts with a solid communication strategy that not only makes people generally aware of your program, but also makes them eager to participate. That’s why it’s important to go beyond simply sharing information about your program.

Taking a storytelling approach is a great way to get people emotionally invested. This means pairing the “what” about your program with the “why” behind it. You know your mission and values inform every aspect of your program, so why not share this with families to make sure they understand the heartbeat of your program?

The data doesn’t lie: Research consistently shows that people connect more with emotional narratives than they do with hard data. For example, a  2019 study found that narratives about climate change framed as stories were more effective at stirring audiences to positive action than purely informational narratives.

What Makes a Compelling Story?

A compelling story always comes with a few key elements, including a unifying theme, a particular setting, characters, a point of view, an engaging plot, a conflict, and a resolution. How exactly does this translate for your youth program? Consider how aspects of your program fit these various elements. 

For example, what’s the problem that you’re working to overcome through your youth programming? Maybe kids in the community need an enriching and safe space to spend time after school before their parents or guardians get home from work. Maybe your school district needs to improve reading outcomes. Or maybe kids don’t have enough opportunities to explore the arts in your area. 

Once you identify the problem you’re trying to solve with your program, consider a few more key questions: What’s your solution to that particular issue? What’s the overarching theme that makes your program stand out?

Remember, good stories include details, so pull out particular examples or details to add color to your story. You may want to highlight the impact your program had on one particular child or group of students. Or maybe you want to share highlights about favorite activities and experiences throughout the program.

It all comes down to identifying the most impactful details about your program and then telling your story in a way that engages family members.

How Can Youth Programs Share Their Story with Families?

Having a great story is just the beginning—you need to share that story effectively to increase family engagement.  Developing an engagement plan to keep participants and their family members invested and involved throughout your youth program is the perfect place to start. 

As part of your family engagement plan, you can take advantage of various communication channels to disseminate information, including social media, email newsletters, texts, an app, drop off and pick up, and local events in your community. Social media can be a great tool for sharing and amplifying your story. Along with posting engaging content, it’s important to  optimize your social media platforms to bolster your online presence. 

You can also streamline your communications and reach families more effectively when you take advantage of an  app for family engagement. Using an app to highlight your program’s story with pictures, updates, and direct communications can help you reach parents and guardians in a more compelling way than simply stating the facts. 

Leverage Arly for Family Engagement and Communication

Families want to know what is happening during the program and feel assured that their child is having fun, making friends, learning, and growing. The right technology can help you provide just that. Although there are plenty of communication tools out there, you can benefit greatly from choosing one specifically designed for youth programs.

Arly's tools are powerful and easy to use, strengthening family engagement by making it easy to build connections with parents and guardians. Whether you want to access direct messages, send a mass newsletter, share program photos, or post announcements, the Arly platform can help you centralize and simplify your family communications.

And because Arly's engagement tools are part of the larger platform, data flows smoothly between solutions. This means you can stay connected to family members in real time as important details are added.

Let Arly help you evaluate how families are currently engaging with your program and whether you could share your program’s story more effectively. Request a demo.