Nonprofit Blog

Welcome to the Nonprofit Blog hosted by the professionals at Armanino, CPAs & Consultants. This blog is set up to inform nonprofit organizations of trends, rule changes, best practices and free educational offerings that we have built to support nonprofit organizations. Our professionals bring you their insights from an accounting and organization perspective to help nonprofits reach their goals. We support our clients with advice, direction and best practices.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nonprofits: Go Beyond Storytelling

Posted by Armanino Nonprofit Team

In the ongoing effort to engage donors, nonprofits have been developing a renewed appreciation for storytelling. But is storytelling alone enough to build the ongoing engagement with doors that modern nonprofits crave?

The ability to touch the heart and then the wallet isn’t a new concept. For decades, donors responded to actors telling stories of impoverished children rising above their circumstances; these stories touched hearts and drove donations. A number of charities connected donations with individual children and promised periodic updates from the children themselves.

Social Media

In the 21st Century, the addition of social media has supercharged storytelling. One good story can be re-purposed into many channels and touch prospective donors where they congregate rather than trying to drive them to the nonprofit’s site. That’s all progress. And there’s some evidence the Millennial generation responds to human narratives. Focusing on best practices helps:

  • First-person tales are most compelling
  • Use video to convey motion and emotion
  • Ensure the story isn’t about the organization, but the impact on real human beings
  • Keep it simple and keep it under two minutes

The question is how to follow the initial success of a storytelling appeal.


In this results-oriented world, donors are looking for programs that solve problems, not bandage them. The focus on quantifiable outcomes is one step and can be a powerful tool when packaged in combination with quality storytelling.

Nonprofit website Socialbrite has a great post featuring 8 Great Examples of Nonprofit Storytelling, which showcases how visual storytelling can help advance the missions of nonprofits. It’s a powerful series of examples that are worth a look. However, remember that storytelling doesn’t work in a vacuum.

Modern donors increasing want to feel appreciate. Donor incentives are one way to accomplish this, but so are some spiffs of the social media age. A shout out via Facebook or Twitter, for example, can be a valuable perk for Millennial donors. They also demand transparency, which can reveal that a nonprofit doesn’t have the reach to solve a problem alone.

That’s where collaborations can become an attractive tool. Not only do they show donors a nonprofit is expanding its approach to the problem, it also lets a nonprofit mine another set of potential donors, albeit at the cost of sharing its own list. Finding the best fundraising techniques for your organization is an art, but it can be augmented by the science of best practices.


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