Did You Make an Impact? How to Tell Your Nonprofit's Story

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Mike Spear
Mike Spear



Nonprofit Blog MarketingAt the heart of every nonprofit’s ability to engage donors and create movements is its ability to tell a compelling story -- but not just any story. The further we progress in the information age, the savvier donors become, and the greater the “return” they expect to see on their charitable investments. More and more, it’s become essential for nonprofits to identify, articulate, and most importantly, market the impact they make with their programs.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five nonprofits successfully telling their organization's story through content to help inspire you to tell your own nonprofit's story. And if you want to learn more about marketing your nonprofit's impact, join us for a webinar on Thursday, August 29th at 1:00 p.m.

1) Acumen

It’s one thing to tell your story in way that inspires. It’s another to motivate your supporters to share your story with their friends and family. And then it's another to get their friends and family to share it with their friends and family.

That's what Acumen does -- the organization is great at its engaging passionate supporters through content. For example, supporters can easily share stories about Acumen's impact by clicking on the Facebook and Twitter share buttons that appear when they scroll their mouse over the images on Acumen's website. Having the sharing technology directly integrated with the content that Acumen wants shared is crucial to spreading awareness of its impact.

The key to get supporters to share your content is to make the information actionable for supporters in clear, intuitive ways. 


2) Invisible Children

Well-known masters of social media and video, Invisible Children has recently turned its attention toward optimizing its email newsletters. Earlier this summer, it began a drip marketing campaign that outlined each part of its four-part impact model, and the metrics behind the work Invisible Children is doing in Africa.

Sprinkled throughout the drip campaign were periodic “Flash Alerts,” with specific calls-to-action based on information relayed to them from the LRA Crisis Tracker, a real-time feed of information about LRA movements in Central Africa. 


And its content doesn't just live online -- Invisible Children are also masters of the inspirational event. At its recent 4th Estate Conference at UCLA, Invisible Children inspired fundraisers by announcing that any defections by LRA soldiers as a result of the fundraising done at the 4th Estate would directly be traced back to the efforts of the attendees. In doing so, not only did Invisible Children forecast the impact of its supporters' efforts, but it also created a dedicated audience eagerly awaiting announcement of the impact they helped create.

3) charity: water

Pioneers of year-round peer-to-peer fundraising, charity: water excels at making fundraising personal. Supporters are encouraged to pledge their birthdays to the cause of providing clean, drinkable water to people in need. In return, charity: water not only builds the wells needed to provide this water, but shows every step of the well construction process, from planning the projects and purchasing equipment, to building the wells, to introducing you to the individuals that benefit through powerful imagery, videos, and blog content.


charity: water also uses its website to share the stories of those that fulfill its mission and keep the organization running, including staff and partners around the world. charity: water excels at creating a sense of community by highlighting the people and organizations raising funds for its mission.

4) Share Our Strength

Statistics are important, but they’re meaningless without a connection to the individuals, families, and organizations whose lives they affect. On its “No Kid Hungry” microsite, Share Our Strength shares not only the numbers behind the programs they support, but also the “amazing true stories” of the people they help. Complete with photos, videos, and extremely compelling website design, Share Our Strength delivers an immersive experience that inspires even the most jaded observers to take action.


5) Splash

Another clean water nonprofit, Splash creates an experience for donors as they read its impact reports. Instead of telling a few select stories about the nonprofit's impact worldwide, each story Splash tells is tailored to a specific region in which the organization works and highlights constituents and Splash staff members alike. 

For the savvier knowledge-hungry donor, Splash created an independent microsite called proving.it that provides extremely detailed information on its programs at a local level. With interactive maps, photos, and statistics for each program, Splash creates a robust experience that educates and empowers supporters to become informed evangelists for the cause. 


Key Takeaways From These 5 Charities

So ... what do these nonprofits have in common? They highlight their impact, and are transparent with their operations. They connect individual actions with tangible outcomes, build community between staff, supporters, and beneficiaries, and create the sense that each of them is crucial to the success of the mission. Most importantly, they leverage a blend of creative inbound marketing techniques and contextual content -- photos, videos, blogs, email, and social media -- to provide a robust, immersive experience that empowers supporters to dig deeper and opt-in to greater levels of personal involvement. 

Marketing your nonprofit's impact at this level isn’t limited to just the marketing masters. Any nonprofit professional can use these techniques to improve the way they market their own organization’s activities, to expand its base of supporters and create a sustainable community.

To learn more about marketing your nonprofit's impact, download our webinar with StayClassy.

Mike Spear is the Director of Platform Growth at StayClassy, a leading provider of online fundraising software for nonprofits. Tweet at him at @classy_mike.

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