Tips for Nonprofits: Better Storytelling Advice

Tips for Nonprofits: Better Storytelling Advice

Here are some tips and better storytelling advice for your nonprofit organization:

1. Be Authentic

People are becoming increasingly aware that a brand or organization is targeting them or trying to sell something. This can cause side effects that discourage people from giving or buying. Always tell your stories in an authentic way.

better storytelling advice

2. Don’t Speak like a Salesman

Stories should be as humane as possible. Using advertising, clinical, or super-sector language may make it impossible for individuals to understand, connect, and empathize with the purpose of the story – and thus almost defeat the purpose of the story. It is important to make sure that your story is easy to understand and digest.

For example, a true story about someone in need is much more useful than a demographic story about “low-income families”. Think about it. . .

3. Stay Positive More than Negative

NGOs are working on major global issues, and it may be very difficult to talk about these issues. To make up for the darkness, you are adding something positive to the story (such as how your beneficiary overcame his or her problems or found a better place).

Too much attention to fighting can cause discomfort and complicate relationships, but too many happy endings can make you think that their help is not needed. This is a very difficult balance.

4. Try to Appeal to all Emotions and Feelings

When you tell a story, you think about smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing. Whether it is in video, audio or written form, all of these elements can help your audience connect and participate.

5. Make a Call to Action

Although we tend to not use a call to action on CreativeVolunteer projects, you should think about incorporating this into your own strategy.

If you tell a good story, your audience will be motivated to give something in return. Make sure that this call to action is relevant to the story you have just told. If the Call to Action is a fundraising event, make sure the person who is raising money encourages someone from the story or someone in a very similar situation to make a donation.

6. Utilize your Website

On your site, every page is an opportunity to tell a story. Non-profit organisations often use their websites to show their supporters a broader perspective – their mission. However, this can be improved by using this space to show detailed, individual stories.

7. Write a Blog

Compared to a website, blog articles offer more space to explore individual stories, giving your followers the opportunity to learn more.

8. Be active on Social Media

Stories are fundamental to the modern system. Stories about values. The media are an ideal way to tell stories and get direct feedback, as well as to bring potential donors directly to the donation website.

Facebook and Instagram is a good place. Create a regular schedule to publish new content, invest in good images, and share stories in the format best suited to your media channel.

9. Be a ‘Real-time’ Storyteller

Planning, collecting and creating well narrated stories is key to your narrative strategy. But today’s donors are looking for a truly human relationship. To achieve this, think about telling stories live and in real time through Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Instagram and Facebook. This ensures immediate involvement and commitment, creating a sense of connection and trust.

10. Dig for New Perspectives

Telling the past with the voice of your “organisation” can be powerful. But the search for new perspectives can be even stronger. Let the recipient tell you the story of his life through his eyes, that which no one knows better. You can also ask an employee, donor or volunteer to share their ideas.

better storytelling advice for nonprofits

11. Take Great Photos

Visual stories have developed at an explosive pace in recent years. Videos are available 12 times more frequently than text, and photos are available twice as often as text updates.

Browse media such as videos, photos, computer graphics, and even cartoons or drawings that stand out in a sea of text. If your budget is lower, it doesn’t mean you have to produce high quality movies with a video producer. Videos recorded on your phone can be as if they were authentic. Of course, experienced video cameramen will help you make stories and give your organization a professional look, and create a movie that can be used for years to come. But producing a great movie isn’t always about telling a great story.

12. Give your Subject a Character

In the spirit of good will and competence, nonprofit organizations are often trapped by too much talking to their constituents. This allows the people they help to have a face and name and speak for themselves. Use quotations, interviews and evidence.

13. Make it Short and Sweet

Your story should attract the reader/guest’s attention from the very beginning. No matter how good the story is, our attention is short, so make sure you deliver it quickly enough.

14. Cultivate a Storytelling Culture

Even if there were a system, there would be no organizational culture that would tell stories just because one or more employees are passionate about it. The story must be woven into the very fabric of a nonprofit organization’s corporate culture (from leaders to volunteers).

Make sure all your employees, employees and volunteers understand how and why stories are used in fundraising. Identifying and collecting good stories that can be used should be part of everyone’s job responsibilities.

15. Integrate Stories into Internal Meetings

This is another way to ensure that storytelling is part of a non-commercial culture. Start your meeting with employees or management with 15 minutes of client, employee or donor stories from last week.

16. Strategize Messages

When writing or recording a story, make sure you have the message you want to send. The key idea is the most important thing you want your audience to say about your story. For example, if your organisation is running a special fundraising campaign in the autumn to give scholarships to girls in Kenya, here is an example.

17. Plan the Story Thouroughly

Even if there are stories that intercept you spontaneously and suddenly come to your door, it is important to plan your story. Capture important moments and events during the year (such as Christmas or Women’s Day), and then think about the most important messages you want to convey during the year. These key messages should show you how to reinforce the message of your organization. Then plan what stories these messages can tell you, and then plan how you are going to collect them.

18. Excite your Audience

It is very important for listeners to hear what they have read or heard about your story. It doesn’t matter if they feel sadness, joy, anger, hope, or pride. Most importantly, your story is emotional. Emotions are caused by actions. “XY”, a non-profit organization celebrating 50 years and winning 20 awards, does not make you nervous. Heroes, real people, are provoking. It’s a great example of how you can move an audience.

19. Tell only Relevant Stories

Once you start collecting stories, you can start collecting a lot of stories. However, it is still important to tell only those stories that are relevant to the case. Choose the stories that best fit your organization’s mission.

20. Report Donor Giving

You can combine that story with consequence management. It tells stories that immediately show the impact your charity has had and how your donation was used. This not only reinforces donor loyalty, but also attracts new donors who can see how their donation was used.

21. Be Clear

Stories are contagious, but human attention has its limits. Explain your story clearly and focus on the reason for your organization, what you hope to achieve, who you are doing it for, and why it should interest the reader/visitor.

22. Leave the Numbers Out

This does not mean that your story cannot contain facts and figures, but should not become the core of your story. It is not history to talk about how many tons of food you have given or how many families you have helped. It may help history, but it’s not history. History must be emotionally exciting and motivating. On the other hand, not to mention the facts, your story may look like fiction.

23. Have a Beginning, Middle, and End

Part of what makes stories so fascinating is their structure. Every good story has a beginning, a centre and an end. Make sure that your story contains at least these three key elements.

Start: The protagonist approaches the context and may have some kind of desire or purpose.

Middle: The protagonist has a desire or purpose. In achieving their goal, the heroes face challenges and actions.

End: The protagonist has a desire or goal: The protagonist’s life has changed somehow. His actions and experiences throughout history have changed his situation.

Of course, this is the most basic structure, and there are many changes.

24. Build your Characters

In addition to the beginning, middle and end, perhaps the only important element of the plot is the character. Characters give viewers something with which they can identify, defend or fight (in the case of the villain).

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25. Zero in on ONE Story

People give to people (and make donations to them). Tell your story about a particular person (or family or animal) to help people identify themselves. Make sure the person’s situation is being discussed. People refer to the story of a dog being abandoned rather than statistics, for example, “a million dogs are abandoned every year.

Help your listeners understand some of the individual and emotional stories your organisation can tell and then tell them about the thousands of people you have helped.

26. Don’t Be Afraid of Change

NGOs sometimes inherit stories and feel “obliged” to share them. You can choose the story at any time if it doesn’t fit your mission.

27. Know the Audience

Although these stories are quite universal and the most basic narrative structure tends to work in all cultures and contexts, it is always worth investing time in understanding the audience.

Always ask yourself: “Who am I talking to and how can I tell the story the way that suits them best?  You can tell the same story in many different ways. You can tell the story from different angles, with different characters, in different formats.

28. Create a System

Good stories don’t always come from you. You have to find them. Have a system or people ready to systematically collect stories that you can use later. Ask someone regularly to invite other non-profit organizations to tell your story or to create an online form, such as a Google form or Google Document, that anyone can fill out.

29. Keep Your Eyes on Lookout

Collecting stories is only part of the process. Consistent and careful use of the story looks like this. Stories can be used as a tool for fundraising, fundraising, business development and much more.

For example, can you tell stories to put your values and mission into practice (for example, what does “responsibility” mean as a value in the whole)? You can tell stories about your mistakes and how you learn from them by showing your sensitivity.

30. Keep Watch of Progress

Share stories, watch your success: clicks, likes, favorites, retweets, applause, voices – regardless of the key performance indicators of the channel you use. Evaluate your efforts and revise your marketing strategy accordingly. What has worked for your audience? Video or text? Pictures or life? Twitter or interest? Follow, evaluate, adjust your path.

31. Spread the Word

You have planned your story, worked hard to create a culture of storytelling and collected amazing stories in different ways – now it is time to share them! Discuss distribution at an early stage. At the beginning of the project, evaluate what resources you have used and how you can add them to achieve your goals. Combine different multimedia approaches to your story and your story will be stronger!

Here are some interesting places where you can share your content:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Medium
  • advertisement board
  • Interesting site
  • YouTube
  • Google Plus
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Links to websites
  • Quora
  • Vimeo

Better Storytelling Advice for your Nonprofit Organization

There are 31 tips to get you going in the right direction. If your organization is interested in learning more about how Creative Volunteer can help you, feel free to reach us at

Likewise, if you’re a creator interested in making a difference, get ahold of us at

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