Nonprofit survival depends on the hearty engagement of donors and volunteers, but keeping them engaged takes more than a random email blast every six months or so. You need to forge an ongoing, emotional connection that builds trust and strengthens relationships. Many nonprofits are finding much success achieving exactly that by mastering the art of storytelling.


Storytelling is such a powerful nonprofit marketing tool because people are innately inclined to connect with one another through common experiences. Sharing stories to which your donors and volunteers can relate lets you reach a wide scope of individuals on a truly personal level. Stories are versatile, entertaining, educational, captivating and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Check out eight storytelling ideas you can weave into your nonprofit inbound marketing strategy.

1. Create a Slideshow

The next time your organization holds an event, make sure you and others take plenty of pictures. Once the event is over, collect the photos and set up a one-minute slideshow with background music. You don’t have to wait for an event to create a slideshow, either. Any topic that can be highlighted with photos is a prime candidate for a storytelling slideshow.

2. Find Ways to Feature Your Volunteers

Photos of your volunteers in action could make a good slideshow, or you can find other ways to feature the people who regularly dedicate their time and efforts to your cause. A series of stories featuring a different volunteer every week or month can work, outlining what drew each person to your organization. Volunteer photo bios are another idea, featuring a photo and fun facts about each volunteer.

3. Use a Main Character

While your cause may be worthy and grand, people may still not connect with it on a personal level unless you can tell them a story with a main character with which they can empathize. Even if audience members have nothing in common with the people you usually help, getting an up-close view of a real person’s plight can help them understand the importance of what you do.

Get permission to use your main character’s name, location, age and a bit about their background. Use photos and quotes, increasing the impact of the story by letting the person tell it their own words.

4. Reference Pop Culture

Popular culture can provide a slew of inspiration for stories that fit your nonprofit inbound marketing strategy. Perhaps there’s a hot TV show, movie or art exhibition that relates to your organization or its members. Or maybe the lyrics of a Top 40 song just so happen to align with your cause. From dance movements to food trends, pop culture gives you a lot of fodder for fueling a story.

5. Build a Fun Staff Page

Highlighting the different members of your staff gives your donors and volunteers another group of people to whom they can relate. Feature photos and personal info on each staff member, including things like their zaniest habits, their background and goals, and their personal connections to your organization.

6. Blogging

Blogging is an integral part of nonprofit inbound marketing efforts, and it also doubles as the top storytelling medium out there. Blogs allow you to efficiently and consistently share your message with the masses, and that message can consist of any number of stories.

Story ideas can come to life as blog content, where you can post images, video and other visuals to accompany the text. You can also extend the reach of your storytelling on your blog by promoting your posts on social media, in newsletters and emails, and on prominent areas of your website.

7. Use Starting Facts and Statistics

Startling facts and statistics can certainly grab attention, but they may not be enough to prompt people to donate or volunteer. Once you grab attention with a startling statistic or fact, retain that attention by telling a story that’s related to the shocking revelation.

Do your research to uncover facts and statistics that are so astonishing that people can’t help but read more to feed their need for an explanation.

8. Get Creative with Video

Videos can tell captivating visual stories, and they can be created right on your smartphone. Try a video short where you capture one-sentence responses from people when asked why they donate to your nonprofit. Put the clips together, add background music, and you have a finished story.

Videotaping notable moments during events, fundraising efforts or even board meetings can also produce a short and sweet video story.

With all these ideas at the ready, you can easily make storytelling a regular part of your nonprofit marketing content lineup. It can help you tap into emotions, prompt personal connections and otherwise keep donors and volunteers consistently engaged.