Storytelling Tools for Nonprofits

Today’s post on storytelling tools for nonprofits offers some practical ideas and resources for building storytelling culture in your organization.

Earlier, I covered the five essential elements of effective nonprofit storytelling, as well as the relationship between brand architecture and storytelling and ways to build an integrated, authentic culture around storytelling.

While this all sounds good in theory, how do you put it all into practice?

Today’s post is all about the tools, resources and processes that can help you collect, craft and publish stories. Using these tools will help you connect your audiences to your work, build engagement, grow support and drive organizational goals.

Here are some key storytelling tools for nonprofits, along with a round-up of my favorite resources for each, including a call-to-action cheat sheet I put together just for you!

Click to get your cheat sheet!

Your Nonprofit Storytelling Toolkit and Resource Round-Up

Photo Releases and Media Waivers

Have a media waiver and policy to define the circumstances in which you will and will not share photos, videos and other information. Your audiences need to be able to give consent.

Here’s a great post from Nancy Schwartz on Network for Good on working with your team to establish respectful policies. There are great language examples throughout, plus links to sample policies from organizations at the bottom.

Story Collection System

You need a system for gathering stories from your colleagues. For programs and fundraising people to connect you with clients or donors, they have to trust you and the process. From noticing stories as they’re happening to following procedures (like securing media releases), they need a system to work through.

Vanessa Chase Lockshin of the Nonprofit Storyteller has some simple tips for developing systems that support ongoing collaboration among teams.

A Clearinghouse to Keep it All

Story, photo and media bank. This is a central repository for photo, testimonials, videos and other content related to storytelling. It takes effort to build, but makes a huge difference in accessibility, consistency and context in sharing stories.

The team at Nonprofit Marketing Guide put together a free e-guide on building a story bank. Go get it here.

A platform strategy

This is where most organizations start, while skipping over the other two. Your platform could be your blog, e-newsletter, videos, social media accounts, event multimedia, podcasts, etc. 

Trying to use every medium can be overwhelming and ineffective. Instead, think about where your audiences congregate and what medium lends itself best to that format, and start there.

Once you get comfortable with that space, then find ways to branch out. 

One story can take on several different forms for several different media. For instance, video featuring a client interview can serve as source material for a blog post or annual report article. You can also pull quotes from the video to populate a social media calendar.

Here’s a nice rundown of ways to rework existing content from the Forbes Nonprofit Council’s Gloria Horsley.

Clear, compelling calls to action

To repeat, the five key elements of effective nonprofit storytelling are: a plot, authenticity, context, hope and a call to action. If you’re bothering to work for your audience’s attention, you’d better make your case while you have it. But that doesn’t mean every story has to come with a hard sell. Think of calls to action as the natural next step someone would take if your story inspires or intrigues them–anything from clicking “learn more” to registering to volunteer or sharing their own story.

To make this easier, I have put together a free cheat sheet of more than 100 call-to-action verb and verb phrase prompts for subscribers of Further. Sign up and get instant access to this free download.

Featured photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

About the Author Reanna

I'm a freelance writer, part-time farmer, full-time mom of two and sometimes blogger. I like craft beer, low-key DIY projects and reading advice columns.

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