The Role of Storytelling in Online Fundraising Campaigns

Posted on: January 29, 2021

How to Use Social Media to Tell Compelling Stories

Your organization and your cause is your passion. You are willing to give your time, energy, and financial help for the worthy cause. And if one person alone was able to move the world, you would be able to accomplish the good that is needed by yourself. 

While one person can make a difference, it takes a collective effort to supply the financial needs of the cause. These unprecedented times have not alleviated the need, but increased it and has made the necessary support harder to come by. 

Non-profits Have Seen A Decrease In Support During The Pandemic

According to the Wall Street Journal, While Covid-19 Donations Soar, Other Charities See a Big Hit to Funds. The article, written in August of 2020, goes on to say that the coronavirus has seen roughly $13 billion in donations for relief funds and medical and vaccine research. That has been urgently needed, but other worthy charities have seen a dip in support.

An analysis by Candid, which tracks and analyzes global philanthropy, found that this 13 billion dollar amount was more than all donations to 12 other disasters combined. That includes the attacks suffered in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the financial crisis in 2008, and both hurricanes Harvey and Sandy, among other crises.

It needs to be stated some of the largest donations came from companies like Google ($1.2 billion), Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ($1 billion), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($355 million), and Netflix’s Reed Hastings ($15 million). These donations were extraordinary and went to the worthy cause of disease control and vaccine development.

Bring Interest And Attention To Your Cause Through Online Storytelling

Just as there have been some extraordinary donations during the year of 2020, these times have been extraordinarily hard for smaller nonprofits to survive and thrive. Those organizations need to take the steps that will bring attention and interest to their cause, and along with that interest, the much-needed funding. One of the ways in which to do that is by storytelling.

Why use storytelling? People love stories. They love to tell them, and they love to hear them. Stories are shared daily and serve as a way to connect, convey information, and explain purposes in an impactful way. 

Novelist Ursula Le Guin has said that “The story is the basic tool of the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”

Online Storytelling Goes Beyond Charts To The Heart Of The Nonprofit

Your organization may start by stating a need and use charts and graphs to outline those statistics that back up the need. That information and those charts are excellent and necessary tools, but you strive for a connection that will produce an emotional investment from donors. 

Most individuals have only a finite amount of discretionary funds, and during this pandemic, they are even more selective about where those funds go. Your organization can use storytelling through social media as a way to help potential and repeat donors understand the positive impact their donations have on real people’s lives.

Social Media Platforms Can Reach A Wide Audience

Social media usage in the U.S. in 2019 grew exponentially. This past year, with so many people working from home or self quarantining, the use of social media, like Facebook and YouTube, continues to dominate the online landscape. 

According to Pew Research Center, Facebook has remained the primary platform for most Americans. About 68% of U.S. adults are Facebook users. Not only that, about three-quarters of Facebook users visit the site daily.

During this time, when in-person fundraisers, dinners, fun runs, and other events have been canceled, nonprofits are looking for different but effective ways to reach and engage donors.

Social Media Storytelling Strategy

Good stories have three components. They have a strong beginning, a strong end, and a point of tension. A good story will take the middle part, which creates tension or conflict, to draw the audience into the story so that they want to know what happens next. 

Stories are much more memorable than statistics or anecdotes. Stories can be told and retold, and they have an impact that spreadsheets do not.

Social Media Storytelling Reaches A Large Audience

As was mentioned, 68% of adults in the United States use Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube also have large audiences.

Both Instagram and Facebook allow you to share authentic photo and video content. An organization can share its passion and mission with visual content that tells a story that will feel natural to the followers.

 Nonprofits can underutilize these social media platforms. In doing so, they can miss out on an easy and effective way to share their stories.

Social Media Storytelling Adds Value To Your Platform

When using social media, remember that you need to add value to the social media platform that you are using, even though you are already doing great work. That can be done through storytelling. It would help if you also communicated to a specific audience. 

And, above all, you must not be boring or long-winded with the stories that you tell. That will not draw donors to your cause or engage them enough for a repeat visit to your site. 

Digital Storytelling Includes The Donors In The Non-Profit Organization

Rather than being an unknown entity, you can use social media to include potential donors in a look behind the scenes that tell the story of how your non-profit came into being. 

Tell the story of your origins and about your daily challenges. Have members of your nonprofit give their background of why they are part of the organization and tell the story of the change it has made in their lives. 

Don’t hesitate to ask a sponsor to tell the story of what leads them to be involved and post that story.

Storytelling For Online Fundraising Events

When you are holding an online fundraising event, be aware that studies show donors want to know two things from non-profits.

  • What did you do with my money?
  • Are you making a meaningful difference?

Stories are the best way to answer both of these questions. Using stories that tell the impact of a donor’s dollars and the positive life-changing influence your non-profit makes will go a long way to answering those questions.


Why is storytelling important for nonprofits?

Storytelling can make people feel emotionally connected to helping a nonprofit reach its goals. When a person feels that connection, they feel invested in making a difference for the better, and your nonprofit enables them to do just that.

What kind of impact does storytelling have on people?

To run an imperfect test on the power of storytelling, two men decided to purchase cheap trinkets, write stories about the objects to enhance their value, and then place them for sale on eBay. “The Significant Objects Project” was a very imprecise and irreverent experiment to show that a story enhanced the value of an object. Yet this imperfect story reinforces the fact that storytelling does, indeed, have an impact on people.

In case you missed them, here are some more of our blog posts with tips for social media: Social Media Checklist: Virtual Events!, Monthly Communications Calendar, How to schedule Facebook Posts: A Video Tutorial!

Speaking of social media… did you know we have an exclusive Facebook Group just for our Ministry Sync customers?! If you are a current Ministry Sync Customer and would like to join, go here to learn more and request to be added!

Please feel free to contact us @MinistrySync on Instagram or Facebook or email us at, and let us know if you’d like to learn more about our event planning tools, AttendEasy or FundEasy.

Crystal Hoag
Crystal Hoag

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

This article was inspired by our customers and written to encourage your fundraising efforts. Although we work with ministries and events daily, our team members are not Event Consultants. We encourage you to consult with your event consultant, executive team, and/or affiliate organization before making any major changes to your events. 

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