How To Use Stories To Raise Money On Social Media


Storytelling and social media – these terms have certainly been thrown around a lot this year!

Are they just empty buzzwords, or actual tools that can help your nonprofit raise money online? I firmly believe in the latter.

Great storytelling and successful social media campaigns are completely interconnected.

You can collect fantastic, compelling stories, but if no one hears or sees them, they fall flat.

You can manage 10 social media accounts, but if you are not telling great stories and cutting through the online clutter, your audience will not engage.

The key is using stories to get people’s attention on social media channels. Social media by itself is not a very effective channel for direct fundraising.

Social media is great for enticing potential supporters and piquing their interest, through eye-catching visuals and emotional stories. The post or tweet will then link to your website – your online marketing hub – where the supporter will be compelled to take an action like donating or signing up for an email list.

Here are 5 ways that you can use stories to raise money for your nonprofit on social media.

1) Always showcase your impact.

Smile Train consistently shows the dramatic impact of its work via Twitter. By showing a simple before and after photo, you feel connected and drawn in and want to learn more, maybe even to get involved.


Twitter’s 140 character limit doesn’t leave much room to tell a full story, so Smile Train posts links in some of their tweets. In this case, the photo draws you in, and when you click through to the website, you can read full length stories and see great photos of children who have been helped by the organization.

2) Share photos of your volunteers in action.

Social proof – when people can see that other believe in your cause – is key on social media. We all like to be a part of something successful, and peer pressure is very effective (Ice Bucket Challenge, anyone?).

No Kid Hungry takes photos of their volunteers in action and posts them on Facebook. By putting a name and a face (in this case, Tara) on their efforts, No Kid Hungry has humanized the program.


Image courtesy of No Kid Hungry Image courtesy of No Kid Hungry

Seeing Tara speaking to a person on the street is much more compelling than posting a simple statistic. It is called Facebook for a reason – we like to see faces!

3) Spotlight your employees.

Your employees have great stories to share! Let one of your staff members write a blog post about their day. Donors love to see the behind-the-scenes work of the organization.

Check out this example from Denver Rescue Mission.

You can then promote the blog link on your social media channels, leading users back to your website. An updated, educational blog is a perfect way to get more search engine traffic to your website – Google loves fresh, unique content!

4) Use quotes.

Quotes can serve as bite-size, mini-stories, and when paired with a great photo, are very effective on social media where brevity is king.

Trickle Up uses colorful, eye-catching photography and great quotes from the people that they serve in the captions.


Image from TrickleUp's Facebook. Image from TrickleUp's Facebook.

One tip: Try using Canva or PicMonkey to overlay a text quote directly onto the photo. That will dramatically increase social media sharing as well as ensure that your nonprofit branding stays with the photo no matter where it travels online.

5) Always embed a Call to Action.

In December 2013 there was much fanfare when Facebook unveiled a “Donate” button for nonprofits, but not much came of it and it dwindled in popularity. Twitter is purportedly exploring launching a similar button, but no progress has been made on this front either.

The best bet to embed a call to action into your posts and tweets is to do it yourself, but using a link or other link shortener, directing people to a specific page on your website.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation raises thousands via its online communities by always linking back to its website in every post and tweet.

Here's a great example from the St. Baldrick's Foundation's Facebook.

With all the noise and competing information in the online space, think strategically about how your nonprofit can collect and share stories using social media. Make sure that you can track your progress and measure the success of your efforts.

Join me on November 18th for a free webinar, 10 Steps to Online Fundraising Success for Your Nonprofit! Details and registration link are here.


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