The best storytellers don’t just tell a story; they use graphic, vivid descriptions and fascinating, powerful examples to make a lasting impact on their audiences. Nonprofit storytelling entails the use of examples to appeal to your target audience’s emotions and deepen the feeling that you have impacted someone’s life in a positive way.
Although most nonprofits use this strategy to steward their donors, some are masters of this craft.
Take a look at some of the most exceptional nonprofit storytellers.
As the name indicates, this nonprofit organization is dedicated towards providing safe and clean water with the help of donations for underserved people all over the world. Charity: water does not simply tell its audience what they do; they share personal and emotional true stories from their field about what it is like to get clean drinking water for the first time, accompanied by real and vivid imagery.
One of their stories is about an intelligent 15-year-old girl in Mozambique, who claims she is the “president” because she can read and write and “maintain progress.” The heartwarming story explains in vivid detail how the teenager used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and often had to skip school to get water, before the nonprofit organization installed water pumps in her village.
Written in a very simple yet engaging manner, the story stirs emotions by making people realize how others struggle to get the basic commodities that most of us take for granted. In this particular case, what makes the most impact is how the installation of a water pump affected the lives of the villagers and particularly one young girl.
The nonprofit’s “Our Work” page starts with a statement that we all know but does not realize the repercussion of: “In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it’s almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry.”
The nonprofit organization, whose mission is to end hunger in the U.S. by providing nourishing meals with the help of food banks, drives this point home through its numerous blogs and YouTube videos. One such video tells the tale of Hurricane Harvey’s victims, Mary and her son, Jaylon. Mary narrates she lost her job because of fibromyalgia before the hurricane and everything became really tight for the family of six. She said they would often never have anything at home to eat and she would have to go to a food bank to pick up food from there — but the smiles on her four kids’ faces were worth it. She also said there are many people like her who have too much pride to accept help.
The deeply heartbreaking and heartwarming video shows us how a woman with a steady $40,000 income had to resort to asking for help, but realized her family was much more important to her than her pride.
This video is impactful because it is relatable and could happen to anyone. It also drives home the fact that just a little monetary help from our side can help save a family from starvation.
Team Rubicon is an international non-governmental organization founded by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jacob Wood that not just helps rehabilitate veterans back into civilian life, it offers support in times of natural disasters. The nonprofit organization has a “Stories & Impact” page and a blog that details the harrowing experiences of natural disaster victims and how veterans help them out in these dark times.
Currently, the nonprofit organization is investing $4 million for Hurricane Maria’s recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. It has also created several videos, featuring graphic, distressing images of the plight of the locals, and taken interviews form homeowners, local construction crews and business owners whose lives were forever changed by Maria. Team Rubicon is now giving them a chance to get their lives on track by providing them with work and a steady income.
The nonprofit organization works their strategy by displaying powerful imagery of the devastation caused by the hurricane and the extent of the terrible damage for millions in Puerto Rico. Team Rubicon’s particular brand of storytelling doesn’t just focus on the victims, it gives a bird’s eye view of the organization’s efforts to improve the lives of the people.
The strategy works well as it conveys raw, personal experiences, thereby sparking a passion to give military veterans a purpose in life beyond war.
These are just a few examples in a long, winding list of touching nonprofit storytelling examples. Others can take inspiration from them to create compelling stories.