Allan Pressel, of CharityFinders, shared this and many other tips on Friday August 20, 2010, at the Foundation Center’s New York library in a presentation entitled Effective Online Storytelling.
Telling a good story about your nonprofit is a way to pique the attention of past and potential donors, get publicity for your organization, and demonstrate the impact you are having. Stories give your visitors a reason to click through your web site and provide a reason to take action.
Pressel provided lots of valuable information about how to create a better overall web presence, but in the interest of concision (one of the keys to effective online storytelling), the information about storytelling skills can be boiled down to these top tips.
Keys to Great Storytelling Online:
Engage: Make your stories appealing. Use eye-catching images and headlines to capture visitors’ attention. Pressel recommended looking at how periodicals like The National Enquirer take advantage of headlines to pull people in. Though your topics might be less salacious, you can still use snappy lead-ins. Use different media (photo, videos, etc.) to make stories more entertaining.
Target: Your stories should be targeted to the people who are visiting your site. Step into the shoes of your different visitors. What do your individual donors want to know? What about a corporation or peer organization? Which of these audiences do you want to target?
Edit and Perfect: All of your content must be meticulously edited. Every single character must either be absolutely necessary or reflect positively upon your organization. If you have multiple people contributing content, make sure the voice and style is coherent.
Condense: Your stories must be presented in “bite-sized chunks”, so that people don’t get bored and leave your site.
Show Impact: Use a before-and-after approach in your stories. Interviews and testimonials can demonstrate the difference that your nonprofit made. Donors and supporters like to see that their support is leading to visible change.
Motivate: Tug at viewers’ heartstrings with your stories. Get them excited to do something about your issues. Every story should be linked to a call to action. This is the real purpose of online storytelling.
Maintain: Keep your stories up-to-date and fresh. You want people to visit your site over and over because repeat visitors are statistically more likely to support your cause.
-- Reilly Kiernan, Educational Services Fellow