Fundraisers: 3 essential elements for your first visual storytelling appeal.

As a non-profit fundraising professional, you know that visual storytelling is becoming one of the most important tools of the trade. As an exercise for the Social Media Marketing MOOC, I will present two articles focused on their importance and add the 3 essential elements that should be present in your first storytelling appeals.

The first article, “Telling our story in less than two minutes” by Hayley Coristine in CharityComms blog, showcases the process of creating an awareness, animation-style video. It goes through the choice of style, preparation and testing of the video and adds some lessons learned during this project.


The second article, “#mygivingstory: Resources and Best Practices for @GivingTuesday Nonprofit Storytelling “ by Beth Kanter, explains why storytelling is important in non-profits, summarizes a twitter chat about this practice and adds several resources to explore more.

Relying on these articles and the profound study I have done in my master thesis about Effective Storytelling in Charitable organizations, I have summarized the 3 most relevant elements that your storytelling appeal must have:

  • Make it short – Your audience doesn’t have a long attention span: 15 to 30-second videos work best, especially in the first few times.
  • Threestage actit now only allows you to present your issue fast, but also integrates the audience as the hero of your story (through their donation, the conflict – issue you are trying to improve- is resolved )
  • Use 1 protagonist – research into the “identifiable victim effect” shows that even having 2 protagonists lowers the emotional impact of the appeal.Storytelling is a great way to create an emotional connection and, as you can see, not a big monster that is hard to tackle: just ensure you use honest stories of your impact.

About the Author:
I am a recent Marketing graduate enthusiastic about non-profits. I worked two years in a volunteer setting and produced an extensive research in storytelling in non-profits for my Master Thesis. This article was done in the scope of the Social Media Marketing Specialization in Coursera.
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