All too often, nonprofit organizations fail to take advantage of their greatest asset: stories.
Stories help us interact with our world and make sense of it. They link us together and shape our view of the world. Nonprofits, however, often miss the stories that surround them; the stories that can help them raise more funding, expand awareness of their cause and reach their goals.
Rob Wu is the creator of CauseVox, a platform to help nonprofits raise funds. He believes that nonprofits are missing a huge opportunity in stories.
“Generally, nonprofits use some level of storytelling but not to the fullest,” Wu said in an email. “The nonprofits that use stories in a meaningful way craft an overarching narrative of their organization and supporting stories that compel their audiences to action. Often, I hear nonprofits talk about fundraising strategies or a communications plan, but seldom do they talk about a storytelling strategy.”
Using stories is something that nonprofits can do in many areas of their work, yet videos are a particularly powerful tool. Especially considering that U.S. Internet viewers watch almost 20 hours of online video per month, according to statistics released in June.
Video storytelling draws us in by appealing to our emotions — a faraway woman with big eyes telling us about the children she can barely feed or the excitable entrepreneur full of passion for his idea. And then if done properly, video stories cause people to take action. Continue reading →
How to convey a powerful message with videos & photos
Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, Web publishers, small businesses.
As regular readers know, I’ve been a longtime proponent of visual storytelling to advance the missions of nonprofits, cause organizations and businesses. (Heck, I co-founded Ourmedia.org before there was a YouTube.) People take action on behalf of a cause only when they feel an emotional connection, and yet nonprofits in particular are famously bad at telling their own stories.
What we tell people in our Socialbrite bootcamps and in our consulting work is this: Every nonprofit is now a media organization (the same goes for social enterprises and businesses). Never before have the tools of visual storytelling been so inexpensive, easy to use and accessible to the masses.
So why aren’t you taking advantage of visual storytelling yet? (Or are you? Tell us in the comments!)
There are dozens of ways to convey your story, and we’ve laid out lots of ways to get started — see the links at the bottom of this article.
Today we’d like to highlight a few best-of-breed examples of visual storytelling so that you can think about how to take a similar approach for your organization. At least one of the examples cited below should trigger an insight — an idea that resonates or an approach that you might consider using with your team or with a production partner.
Find people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and convey their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility
Remember, it’s not about the tools or the technology. It’s about finding people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and conveying their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility. Some can be elaborate productions, with narration, titling and musical score all working together. Others can be as simple as holding up a video-capable smartphone to capture a moment.
One you have a visual story, or several, that you can draw upon, you’ll be able to begin using it in your public outreach: on your website or blog, on your Facebook page, in your annual report, in your email newsletters. And don’t forget to enter contests like the DoGooder Awards, TechSoup Storytelling Challenge or CurrentTV’s just-ended The Current Cause, where $15,000 in prizes will be awarded.
Here are seven great examples of nonprofit storytelling:
And here were the 2010 winners. Observe how other organizations are telling their stories — which style did you like: earnest, funny, polished, grassroots?
2/ Digital stories using photos & narration
“Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons,” by Room to Read
digital storiesI’ve been involved in the digital storytelling movement since 2004. A vastly underutilized medium, digital storytelling uses photos, video, film or found materials, combined with voice-over narration, to convey powerful, evocative stories with a rich emotional dimension.
The first place winner, Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons, by Room to Read (embedded above), took advantage of visually stunning photos taken in Nepal and weaved together a simple 60-second story about the San Francisco nonprofit’s global literacy mission. Nicely done — with no video at all. This is something your organization can do on its own, no? Continue reading →