4 storytelling tips for nonprofits

December 10, 2014

4 storytelling tips for nonprofits

Telling an effective, engaging and emotionally moving story is a great tactic for nonprofit fundraising. Understanding exactly how to craft a successful narrative, however, can be difficult. Here's a look at four best practices than can help nonprofits develop their stories into tools that encourage giving from new and returning contributors:

  1. Make it relatable: One of the major advantages storytelling has over the use of statistics and analytics is the ease with which it can connect with human emotions. With that distinction in mind, it's important to make sure the story is easily understood and digested by readers. Using language to encourage those readers to compare a situation presented in a story can be effective. This is especially true when demonstrating how the community being helped by a nonprofit has few or no resources as compared to the average contributor.
  2. Emphasize relevance: Nonprofit blog Getting Attention highlighted the importance of keeping a story relevant to readers. This can mean finding the right approach to fit in with the current season, an approach often seen around the holidays. Another aspect to consider is developing a sense of timeliness, in that a specific fundraiser or program has a deadline for donations. Letting readers know that they not only have to act, but have to act soon, can be an important motivator.
  3. Keep brevity in mind: Stories don't have to be long to be effective, and can actually be undermined by being too detailed or involved for the average donor to read and understand quickly. Nonprofit Hub suggested using the flexible rule of having a story last between six words and two minutes when read or presented via pictures or video. Starting strong and capturing the attention of readers early is also an important consideration, as it's easy to lose someone's focus at the beginning of a story.
  4. Find fresh perspectives: Getting Attention said it's important to not always go back to the same viewpoint, whether it's specifically written from the perspective of a staff member or with a general, organization-wide tone. Having new, different and interesting voices – whether an employee, a contributor or someone helped by a program – telling a story means a greater chance of a reader feeling a connection or attachment, and a greater chance of generating a donation.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.


Ready to chat?
Get in touch today to request a no-obligation savings evaluation.


Working with Marshal Whittey at First Nonprofit has been a great experience. He handles our request as a priority and goes above and beyond to resolve any issues we have in a timely manner. Marshall follows through to the end and ensures our needs are met. He has been a great resource for LSC and our “go to” for any tax questions we may have. With LSC transitioning several facilities into one federal tax identification number, First Nonprofit was able to assist and provide guidance with best practices resolving claims to each entity. Additionally First Nonprofit provided knowledge (information materials) and one on one training to HRS group with best practices to handle claims state adjudicated, fraudulent claims, and appeals. And processing information in the First Nonprofit [unemployment claims] system allows for timely information can be collected.

Lutheran Services Carolinas, Salisbury, NC

My experience with FNP has been wonderful. Unemployment in general is quite confusing and FNP has simplified the process for us. Everyone we have reached out to or worked with has been very helpful and follows up to be sure we understand the information. I am so happy we made the switch to FNP!

Stone Valley Community Charter School, Huntingdon, PA

First Nonprofit smoothed the unemployment perils for our organization during Covid. Without the ability to cap our UI exposure, we would not have been able to weather the storm. The program worked perfectly and we have come out of the pandemic ready to forge on. Thanks FNP!

Jewish Silicon Valley, Los Gatos, CA

My experience with the FNP has been fantastic. The idea of setting funds aside for the unemployment tax liability is a bedrock for nonprofit organizations like mine, namely ASHBA; what is even more advantageous is having the FNP as a custodian of those funds. 100% recommended!

American Saddlebred Horse & Breeders Association, Inc., Lexington, KY

I would like to comment on my experience with FNP….to date our District has saved $1,000’s of dollars by being enrolled in the First Nonprofit program. My only regret is that we did not know about this method of paying unemployment tax years ago….as I had figured about five years

ago, had we enrolled 15-20 years ago, we could have saved our small school district upwards of $500,000 in payments to IDES. Also we would have had a pretty hefty sum of money in our Reserve Account. Thankfully I attended a workshop hosted by First Nonprofit back in 2015 which got the ball rolling!

Beardstown Community Unit School District 15, Beardstown, IL

I have worked with the First Non-Profit Team for many years, and I appreciate the quick response and care that Cecilia and the team provides anytime I have questions. While there are other providers that may provide like services, First Nonprofit will always be my first choice! I appreciate you!

Innovative Services, Inc., Green Bay, WI

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ