“People won’t remember what you say or what you do, but they’ll remember how you make them feel.”
If your goal as a nonprofit is to get the message out and engage supporters in your cause, guess what - you are not the only one. Your message is competing against many other tweets, posts and pictures. So how do you stand out?
Storytelling is a strategic way to cut through the clutter. As one of the oldest forms of communication, it can help your audience remember and emotionally connect to your cause. And this can lead to greater awareness, action and engagement!
But telling a good story is more challenging than you think. Below are some awesome resources, tips and tools we’ve collected over the years to help you improve your online storytelling strategy.
Step 1: Getting started - Knowing the heart of what you do
Last year we hosted a Net Tuesday called "Sharing your Story", with Cassie Barker from Collective Strategy. Using Public Narrative's framework, Cassie walked us through how to build a story arc and tell stories with heart.
- If you don't know where to start - download Public Narrative’s Worksheet (Microsoft Word Doc) to identify the main elements of your story.
- Say it out loud! Sometimes saying what you do is the best way to figure out the most vital message you want to get across. This blog post will show you how to build a good elevator pitch.
Step 2: Making your story strategic
Not all stories are created equal. Different types of stories can have different results. The type of story you tell, to whom and when will largely depend on your goals. Are you trying to raise money? Increase awareness? Recruit new volunteers? Ideally you don’t tell stories for the sake of just telling stories: you want to get results!
- Read this simple step by step guide on how to turn stories into a content strategy that will attract and engage your supporters.
- Watch "How to Tell Stories that Get Results" - a Net Tuesday presentation by Lisa Horvat, VP of Strategic Storytellers. Lisa shows us what works and what doesn’t and uses great nonprofit case studies in storytelling.
Step 3: Make it visual
Showing rather than telling is sometimes the most powerful way to get a message out quickly. Here are some helpful resources so you can make the most of your visual content.
- Seeing is believing - Resource Media’s new best practices guide on visual storytelling, gives you the latest research and tools for how you can put pictures to work for your organization or your cause.
- Infographics and data visualization - Infographics are a big trend these days and can be a great way to explain complex data in a simple way. Gabe Sawhney, our speaker at Net Tuesday, wrote up a great summary of key insights and tools from his presentation on data visualization.
- Telling a story with online videos - Learn the fundamentals of planning and producing compelling online videos!
- Make your video look good - Avoid common issues such as shaky video, poor lighting, inaudible audio, and boring scenes with Let's Dabble's excellent video tutorials on nonprofit video and Idealware's Nonprofit Film School Primer: Or, The Idealware School of Video for Nonprofits That Don’t Video Good.
The photo above was taken by Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra - CC license.
Other Resources, Tools and Tips
- The Best of Nonprofit Video Storytelling - a wonderful collection of nonprofit videos on pinterest!
- TechSoup.org's (United States) Roundup of Digital Storytelling Resources - all the nuts-and-bolts tips you need from before you push record to editing to distribution.
Great Books on Storytelling
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
- Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
- A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
- Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin
- Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
Low cost or free storytelling tools we LOVE!
- Storify - compose a story from tweets and images
- Tiki-Toki - create beautiful interactive timelines that you can share
- Animoto - easily helps you make beautiful professional videos
- Prezi - an impressive presentation tool that helps you organize and explain complex ideas
- PowerPoint - check out the new creative features in 2013 (available in the donations program). Here's a great example of how a nonprofit created an animated video with PowerPoint.
- Piktochart - have fun with your data and make infographics
- Wordle - create word clouds with your data
- Pixlr - a free online photo editor to resize, shape, color and more
- Flickr - share your photos online for the world to see
- Issu.com - publish your online magazine for free
- Vimeo - a good alternative to YouTube for publishing videos online
- Vine - a new way to share short videos on Twitter (here's how some nonprofits are using it)