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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How Nonprofits Can Engage an Audience Through Storytelling

Storytelling is a strategic tool that has been used since the beginning of humanity to transmit a meaningful message to others. Through stories, people can speak out their minds, share wisdom, and pass information to others. 

Telling a good story can influence the mindset of the audience, and this explains why a lot of businesses today are using this tool to market their brands to their potential customers. Nonprofits can also make use of storytelling to engage their audience, get their attention, and influence them to change their behavior and take action. 

Generating compelling stories is no longer a luxury or a choice for nonprofits. Potential donors and volunteers have increasing amounts of pressure to spend money elsewhere and volunteer their time with other activities. This is why your nonprofits needs to rely on storytelling as a foundation for a strong digital media strategy in the future. 

If you want your nonprofit to thrive and grow, then you need to craft stories that can inspire their audience and motivate them to donate to their organization. In this article, we shall discuss 8-step guide which nonprofits can follow to collect and use compelling stories that will make a difference in their audience behavior. 

1. Know Your Goals

The first step of generating a good story is to articulate your goals. Since it may be difficult to create one story that will accomplish all your goals, you may choose to run multiple storytelling campaigns that will achieve one goal at a time, depending on your budget and resources. 

You should know why you are telling the story or what you want to accomplish. For instance, your goals may be to raise awareness, tell that you have a new program, drawing new donors, etc.

2. Select Your Audience

Of course, not everyone on this planet is your audience. You have to accept the fact that your story won’t be appealing to everyone and so you must select your target audience. So you should know which part of the population you want to reach and what actions you want them to take. Choosing your audience will then help you know which type of story to collect.

3. Choose the Story Type

This will come after you’ve specified your goals and selected your target audience. There are five main story types that you can collect as a nonprofit. These are social proof stories, continuous improvement stories, value stories, impact stories, and value stories. 

The most common type of story is the impact story as it tells who you are and what you do. This type of story doesn’t concentrate on your organization, but it rather focuses on the impact you’ve made in your surrounding world.

4. Collect the Story

It’s important to note that you’re collecting the story not writing it. There are many ways through which you can tell your stories such as Instagram captions, a photo gallery, videos, and writing professional blog posts

If you’re planning to share your story on social media, then a video is the best choice. Telling your story by photos in a blog post will demand a lot of planning otherwise you may ruin the whole thing. 

Collecting the story in various ways will give you numerous options when choosing the channel through which you will share it.

5. Select Your Online Channels

Since now you have a compelling story ready to share with your audience, and then it’s time to choose where you will share it. The channel matters a lot as online platforms have their own rules, etiquette, and strategies. Whatever channel you choose, it’s imperative to mold and format the story you want to broadcast and integrate it appropriately into your online marketing strategy. 

If your story is in the form of a video, you are lucky as you can share it on multiple channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and blog. Remember to choose an online platform where you’re currently active, there is your audience, and your staff capacity can manage.

6. Create Visuals

Every story you tell need to be accompanied by a visual. The visual can be in the form of graphics, video or photo or all the three if possible. Look at what your organization has at its disposal and what you can edit or repurpose. 

If you’ve none, luckily, there are many free and cheap tools that you can use to create eye-catching visuals, and some of these include Canvas, Exposure, and Animoto.

7. Share & Promote Your Story

You’re not done yet. You need to try as much as you can to share your story in many channels. After sharing, you also need to promote the story. There are various ways to do so. Facebook ads work if your budget allows. 

Another way is to use scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer that will promote your story while you are at work or asleep.

8. Evaluate your Campaign

Evaluation is the last step which is very crucial in determining whether your storytelling campaign is working as you intended. Find out which strategies worked and which did not. Think about some things that need improvement or done differently. If you have achieved success, celebrate it and proceed on your next campaign.

Your nonprofit will thrive by attracting more donors and increasing your volunteer base if you follow these simple tips to capture and use stories for your online marketing strategies. Be sure to focus on the needs of your audience and match the stories you collect with the message and brand of your organization!

Chris is a Digital Media Strategist in Orlando, FL and is an experienced freelance copywriter, PPC management, and SEO strategy. Chris is also passionate about startup marketing, environmental issues, and emerging technologies.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog