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The Power of Visual Storytelling

aiuti unanitariVisuals are powerful. Images convey sense, purpose, place, and emotion ... in an instant. They cause us to react and respond. They spark something deep inside of us.

Here’s how to use the power of visual storytelling to truly engage your donors and supporters:

1. What is Visual Storytelling?

Visual storytelling is the use of highly visual material that highlights your organization’s impact by emotionally engaging your audience and encouraging them to spread the word and take action. We are wired to process images quickly. As a matter of fact, the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and Web posts containing visuals drive up to 180 percent more engagement than those without.

2. The Power of Stories

Kitchen Serving Food In Homeless Shelter Kitchen Serving Food In Homeless Shelter

Great stories don’t just tell, they take you on a journey. They grab you and pull you into the moment. Stories are memorable, show passion, and create an emotional connection. In fact, in our recent Abila Donor Engagement Study, “personal stories” was listed as one of the top three ways donors – regardless of age – feel most involved with the nonprofits they support.

But, where do you find stories? In truth, you find them everywhere. Here are some ideas for stories to get you started: There’s the Success Story, the “Why We Do What We Do” Story, the Staff Stories, and the Cautionary Tale. A word of caution on the Cautionary Tale: You mustn’t end it on a negative note. Gloom and doom do NOT generate dollars. Instead, close out the story with a positive note; a silver lining.

3. Using Video

Video is cheap (your smart phone is your camera), accessible, powerful, and easy to distribute online via places like YouTube and Vimeo. Video is much faster to create than written content, and quickly establishes an emotional connection. A Wharton School of Business study finds marketing with video to be 600 percent more effective than print alone. Here are some quick tips for shooting video: Know your objectives, keep it short (under two minutes), keep it simple, and always include a call to action.

4. Social Media and Storytelling

Social media is powerful. Think of the viral effect of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. We’ve evolved from simply having a website to push information to our audience to having platforms and channels to engage in dialogue and community building. Here are some tips to help you make the most of social media for storytelling: Start small and add on; encourage engagement; remember it’s a conversation; get friends, family, and staff to share with their networks; give them resources to easily share; provide incentives; and give thanks.

Learn more about visual storytelling and other tips to engage donors by downloading our recorded webinar, “What’s Next? Strategies and Tactics for Donor Engagement.

Rich Dietz

The preceding is a guest post by Rich Dietz, Senior Product Manager at Abila. Rich began his nonprofit career when he was the director of a mentoring organization in college and went on to get a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). He has spent the last 20 years working both in and with a wide variety of nonprofit, political, and government organizations as well as technology companies focused on the nonprofit sector. It is this unique background and experience – working directly in nonprofit organizations AND working on the technology side – that allows him to better understand and assist nonprofit organizations with their technology needs. Rich holds a Masters in Social Welfare (MSW) from the University of California – Berkeley as well as a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA.

Topics: Trends