Nonprofit Storytelling Examples to up Your Game as a Marketer [Resouces, Templates]

Brand Strategy & Identity
Silvia Li Sam
Founder & CEO

Powerful storytelling is by far one of the most effective (and important) elements to inspiring action and change. In fact, storytelling can boost conversion rates by 30%. To fuel your work as a nonprofit, we need to tell stories of the people that we serve that engage potential donors, community members, and organizations we partner with. Humans are wired to connect through stories they tell to each other, and the better the story, the greater the connection. This gives us two areas of focus to dive in:

  • What story are we telling?
  • How are we telling it?
  • Where are we telling it?

In this article, we’ll go over nonprofit storytelling examples and best practices so you can apply them in your nonprofit work.

At Slam Media Lab, we’re an award-winning nonprofit marketing agency who has worked with nonprofit clients of all sizes including: 

  • Community Skills Initiative who is empowering job seekers for the future of work through their free programs in partnership with nonprofit NCW Tech Alliance and Microsoft.
  • Peer Health Exchange who is a national nonprofit helping hundreds of thousands of young people get resources to make healthier decisions around sex, mental health, and more.
  • Fresh Approach, a SF Bay Area nonprofit providing locally-grown produce, nutrition education, and gardening skills to ensure equitable access to nutritious food for all.
  • LTX Quest, a national nonprofit that hosts the largest professional gathering of Latinx professionals in media, philanthropy, entertainment, advocacy, and tech.
Get in touch with us to talk about how we can help tell your nonprofit’s story. 

How to Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story 

When we come up with stories to share about your nonprofit, start with your values. What are they? What do you care about?

Some nonprofits we’ve worked with say:

  • I care about impact and the numbers behind our work
  • I care about the people and how they’re using our resources
  • I care about our staff, and how they go above and beyond to help our community

Once you answer those questions, you’ll be able to start thinking in content buckets and audiences.

If you’re a nonprofit like Fresh Approach for example, you’d say: farmers, local fresh produce, BIPOC communities who live in food desserts.

If you’re a nonprofit like LTX Quest, you’d think Latinx professionals from ages 22-45 in the industries mentioned previously, who are seeking mentorship, partnerships, and feeling seen.

See where I am going? 

This leaves us with how you are communicating. The challenge we have today is not just capturing that emotional appeal, but retaining it, and leveraging it into action in a hyper competitive attention economy. It’s proven that the most effective nonprofit stories utilize a combination of emotionally provocative vocabulary and imagery that hit three emotional pillars:

  • Empathy: Creating narratives that allow your audience to step into the shoes of those you help.
  • Alarm: Highlighting urgent issues and challenges, awakening a sense of responsibility and prompting action.
  • Relatability: Crafting stories that resonate with the everyday experiences of your audience, forging a personal connection that inspires engagement.

While data and figures indeed have their place, especially when presented alongside compelling visuals, it's figuring out the sweet spot between getting them to feel something.

Here’s a quick checklist on questions to ask:

  1. Is this content actually for my audience?
  2. Does it require no additional background context on the nonprofit to understand it?
  3. Is it relatable, fun, awe inspiring, bold, or provoke an emotion?

Once you have these details hone down, you turn your content ideas into graphics, visuals, and blogs. 

Structuring a Nonprofit Story

All strong nonprofit stories have a hook. Your nonprofit mission is no different. Let's dive deeper into structuring your nonprofit story. Here's a more detailed framework you can consider:

Introduction: Setting the Stage

Introduce Your Nonprofit. Provide a brief overview of your nonprofit organization, its name, and its core mission. Explain what issue or challenge your nonprofit is addressing.

The hook: Share a powerful statistic, a striking fact, or a personal story related to your cause that grabs the reader's attention. Make them care about the issue from the very beginning. Some of the reactions you want them to have WOW, LOL, HAHA, relatable, heard.

Background: Why Does Your Cause Matter?

Present the problem: Describe the problem your nonprofit is addressing in depth. Use data, real-life stories, or testimonials to illustrate the magnitude of the issue. Help your audience understand why this cause is significant and urgent.

Humanize the issue: Introduce real people who are affected by the problem. Personalize their stories to evoke empathy and connect with your readers emotionally.

Your Nonprofit's Response: The Solution

Explain your approach: Describe the specific initiatives, programs, or projects your nonprofit has undertaken to address the problem. Highlight the unique strategies and methods you employ.

Success stories: Share stories of individuals or communities positively impacted by your organization's work. Include before-and-after scenarios, showcasing the difference your nonprofit has made.

Impact and Results: Demonstrating Your Track Record

Quantify your impact: Provide measurable outcomes and achievements. Use statistics, graphs, or visuals to demonstrate the progress your nonprofit has made. This could include the number of lives impacted, communities served, or positive changes observed.

Include testimonials: Include quotes from beneficiaries, volunteers, or partners who can vouch for the effectiveness of your programs.

Call to Action: Engaging the Reader

Inspire support: Clearly state what you need from your audience. Whether it's donations, volunteer hours, or spreading awareness, make it easy for readers to get involved.

Highlight the impact of support: Explain how the reader's contribution will directly benefit the cause. Paint a picture of a brighter future made possible through their support.

Conclusion: Reinforce the Importance of the Cause

Reiterate the need: Remind the reader why their support is crucial. Emphasize that the problem still exists and that there is more work to be done.

Express gratitude: Thank your readers for their time and consideration. Express genuine appreciation for their support, whether it's through donations, volunteering, or spreading the word.

4+ Nonprofit Storytelling Examples 

Nonprofit Example #1: Being Found Through SEO

Heard of SEO (search engine optimization)? It’s how most people find new information on search engines. Think when you googled a recipe and found a site you never heard of? That’s SEO. 

This marketing strategy is what you can apply to your resources and for people to find you.

At Slam, we love nerding out on all things SEO and keyword research, and are constantly learning how we can improve our search engine results pages (SERPs). We’ve worked with nonprofits to grow their traffic from 0 to 30,000 searches per month.

If you’re trying to figure out how to do keyword research and find how people are looking for you, check out our 7-step free keyword usage resource and if you want to partner with Slam on SEO, reach out here. 

A chart showing organic traffic value for Slam client going from 7K searches/month to 30K+/searches month
Slam client going from 7K searches/month to 30K+/searches month

Nonprofit Storytelling Example #2: The Story of a Health-Food-Access Org

Screenshot from the Fresh Approach website
Fresh Approach helps people access nutritious food and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Fresh Approach provides San Francisco Bay Area communities with locally sourced produce, valuable nutrition education, and essential gardening skills. Their goal is to ensur that everyone has the opportunity to access nutritious food and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

True to their name, Fresh Approach wanted to reenergize their brand. Slam Media Lab partnered with them to elevate their mission, strengthen connections with their diverse audience, and launch a site they could share proudly.

This is how we told Fresh Approach’s story through design and branding: 

  1. Beginning: We started with a brand discovery process where we learned the organization’s values and they included examples and non-examples of brands they liked and didn’t like. They shared with us the style and direction they wanted the brand to go with. We broke down the primary audiences and what we wanted to communicate to them.
  2. The Problem: How do we refresh a nonprofit brand that stays true to its mission, pushes the boundaries, and is inclusive and bold? Fresh Approach connects Californians in the Bay Area with California farmers by organizing and maintaining local food systems, and empowering families to make sustainable lifestyle changes by providing  nutrition, cooking, and gardening expertise at a community level, as well as access to locally and sustainably sourced fruits and vegetables at a low cost. From a branding and design perspective, we featured the connection of these communities as core to Fresh Approach’s mission. 
  3. The Solution: Fresh Approach’s philosophy revolves around the essential role of economically viable small farms and accessible community gardens in fostering a resilient, community-based local food system. In shaping their brand identity and visuals, we took great care to weave this belief into the core of the organization. We crafted an identity that focuses on inclusivity in every aspect, showcasing the diverse tapestry of offerings from both California and their vibrant community. At Slam, we carefully curated a color palette inspired by earthy tones, shaping a visual identity perfectly aligned with all of Fresh Approach’s programs. Our goal was to imbue the brand with a feeling of warmth, welcoming excitement, and a touch of wonder. Additionally, we introduced typography and illustrations designed for easy recognition, ensuring they remain free from unnecessary distractions.

The result? A brand that puts its community first — giving everybody a seat at the table. 

Nonprofit Storytelling Example #3: Community Skills Initiative

NCW Tech Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, STEM education, and technology adoption in North Central Washington. With over two decades of experience, we support 165+ business members and six counties in Washington State through events, resources, and initiatives like the Community Skills Initiative (CSI) in partnership with Microsoft.

CSI is a a free program designed to assist workers in navigating the pathways to future employment opportunities. Slam partnered with CSI to help spread the programs and courses out by building a multi-language website that allowed them to target multiple audiences.

You can see the full case study here.

This is how we told the Community Skills Initiative vision and story through design and brand: 

  1. Beginning: NCW Tech Alliance aimed to address how to create a nonprofit website that was inclusive, user-friendly, available in both English and Spanish, to help diverse job seekers access free upskilling courses and navigate pathways to future employment opportunities. Plus, we wanted audiences to feel represented in the design, copy, and imagery.
  2. The Problem: The lack of accessible platforms for Spanish speaking job seekers to easily discover and engage with free free upskilling courses and resources to navigate pathways to future employment in the digital economy.
  3. The Solution: Leveraging our in-house multilingual team and Weglot, an AI-content translator, we expedited the creation of the Spanish version of our Webflow site. We optimized all the pages for SEO, and paired with a strong logo, color palette, photography, and language that converted. Additionally, we introduced efficient logistics management through Airtable automation, enabling streamlined data submissions, automated actions, and organized storage for competition-related information. This innovative solution facilitated the competition comms, and reduced the time spent on administrative tasks.

The results? A strong story told through design, web, and copy, ultimately helping job seekers upskill for the future of work.

Nonprofit Storytelling Example #4: Amplifying Youth Voice

Dive into the vibrant transformation journey of Peer Health Exchange (PHE) as they rewired their work from 2003 to embrace this new decade. Slam partnered with them to infuse youthful energy in their content strategy (Instagram and TikTok) and also their website design.

For context, PHE is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on providing comprehensive health education to young people (13-18). They aim to bridge health education gaps by delivering important information directly to classrooms and reaching hundreds of thousands of young individuals across the United States.

The Peer Health Exchange team won’t settle for your average health education. Young people won't settle for bad content. To create an impact, Peer Health Exchange needed a revamped social presence that went beyond Health 101. We worked with the team to make it happen.

We asked ourselves, “What do young people want to see on their feeds?”

As Peer Health Exchange began producing identity-affirming, health-focused social content for 13-18 year olds, they reached out to Slam for support for their nonprofit Instagram and TikTok. Through our partnership, we droe social engagement backed by deep audience research and a redesigned brand voice that’s tuned into young people.

Our strategy focused on three things:

  1. Prioritizing deeply Gen Z-focused design and content: To reach young people you’ve gotta speak their language and hit their aesthetics. That’s why every piece of content we design, every caption we write, and every meme we handpick is deeply attuned to youth preference. It all drives real engagement. 
  2. Turning out trendy, timely content: We’re deeply in tune with pop culture and stay up-to-the-minute on current events. The result is a social presence that feels fresh and cutting edge, whether we’re busting health myths from the 80s or demystifying legislation from today.
  3. Refreshing the graphics and optimizing thumbnails for attention: We created a new set of graphics that stood out from your average Instagram post or TIkTok thumbnail to grab attention. We asked, “Would somebody bookmark this, save this, or want to tell their friend about it?”
  4. Pushing content at scale that converts: High volume, high impact is our MO. We produce a lot of content and manage a steady publication flow with our custom content calendar. We continuously track analytics, test new ideas, and optimize accordingly so that every post hits home with youth and drives conversions. 

The results? Doubling the engagement rate from 3% to 7% in three months, 30% organic account growth, impressions going up 10x (100K → 1MM). 

Interested in partnering with Slam to drive your nonprofit social strategy? Reach out here!

Nonprofit Storytelling and Marketing Masterclass

At Slam, we have extensive experience in driving strong marketing and design campaigns for nonprofits. All that knowledge is now available on our nonprofit marketing masterclass.

The masterclass course has different lessons that can help you up your game as a nonprofit marketer:

For limited time, the course is $299 as a bundle! You can buy it also as individual courses.

Liked this post? We’ve written extensively on nonprofit marketing campaigns and resources! Check them out below:

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