How to Support Non-Profits: A Guide To Storytelling

Nov 20, 2020
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There is a unique season that sits between the giving thanks in November and the gift unwrapping in December when nonprofit organizations start sharing their best stories. From the stories of individual triumph, overcoming great odds and lifting spirits to the stories that tug at the heart and tear ducts simultaneously, organizations share them in the hopes of bringing attention to their mission and, ultimately, dollars to continue their efforts.

Great marketers and communications professionals already understand the importance of stories in their work. We find ourselves able to recite stories that have been told to us over the years far better than we can recall specific years and factoids we’ve studied. However, what to do with those stories isn’t always as obvious. Here are some tips about how to share those stories in the season of storytelling.

Use Great Visuals

We remember words of a story; we remember how stories make us feel. However, to really hit home, make sure you include high-impact visuals. Is your story about a sweet family that just received a full month’s worth of food that will help them make it through a very tough time? Show us. Photos of those heartfelt moments or videos capturing reactions are key elements in cementing a story in the minds of its viewer. Try to keep it authentic and genuine—and avoid stock photography or video. If you can, take a page out of the TRIMEDX Foundation’s book and gather photos from volunteers, events and other sources that both show and tell in a video storytelling format.

Use Social Media

Some nonprofits truly rule the social media game. It isn’t just nationwide organizations, though; Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana has a large regional following on social media, and they make use of that with storytelling videos. For every nonprofit working to tell their stories, their own subscribed audiences are the best places to start. Remember—you don’t need to be on every social media platform. Focus on where your audience is and where you can most effectively tell your story.

No, Really—Spread it Far and Wide on Social Media

Leverage your followers who are close to your mission. For example, if you have a personal story relating to the mission of an organization, share that with your followers. For organizations, encourage your followers to help tell stories. Want to go above and beyond? Provide a “toolkit” for supporters to access on your website or Facebook photo album that allows supporters to pull graphics, text or videos to share on their own feeds and platforms. This is where a campaign hashtag can really come in handy.

Keep It Personal

The personal connection that happens when an individual feels important to you will never be trumped by digital tools. We are relational. Keep this in mind as the stories start flowing, particularly this #GivingTuesday. This digital movement has grown to a worldwide call for donations—but it can be a very cluttered space. To give your stories the best possible chance to break through, keep that personal touch. Mail a small personalized marketing piece to your donors, or share a handwritten letter with a photo and a small story, which gives that sense of personal connection that we crave. Call first-time donors who have made donations this year. Make use of email segmentation and personalization tools—anything that can be done to help with that personal connection is worth the effort.

If these tips for sharing stories resonate with you, share them! If they resonate more deeply and cause you to wonder how you’ll craft the right visuals to pair with your stories or how to tell your stories as an organization, we can help. Reach out at or follow us @westcomm on LinkedIn for more insights.

How to Support Non-Profits: A Guide To Storytelling


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