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A Nonprofit’s Narrative: How Stories Help Nonprofit Websites

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At GreenMellen, we love working with nonprofits and helping them build a strong website that promotes and supports their cause. If you own a nonprofit business, take a hard look at your website and ask yourself, “Is my content compelling enough to inspire people to join my cause?” Whether you can honestly answer yes to this question or know your website can use some improvement, there is one element that will attract and engage your audience toward your business: a strong, compelling story.

If you want to capture the attention of potential donors, members and volunteers, a story (better yet, your nonprofit’s story) will not only build a connection between people and your business, but also help them understand why you do what you do. Ultimately, a compelling story will create the emotional triggers that drive your audience to take action with you.

You may be thinking, “Alright, GreenMellen, you’ve convinced me, but how do I create a story that inspires people to stand with my nonprofit?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Keep these five story elements in mind when writing your story for your website, and soon enough people will come together to help your nonprofit change the world.

Character Development

What’s the first thing that’s usually introduced in any story? Why, the character(s), of course! For your nonprofit’s story, introduce the main character right away so your audience can point the story back to someone/something. Keep in mind, the main character doesn’t necessarily have to be a person; it could be a community, family or anything that represents the “face” behind your nonprofit.

To write the most effective story, you need to define your audience and tailor the story in their favor. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • What are common characteristics your audience shares?
  • Are you trying to capture donors, members, volunteers or advocates?
  • What motives your audience?
  • What does your audience care about?

After you figure out who you’re writing for, you can then build your character that speaks to them through similar pains, hopes and dreams.

Emotional Connection

This will be a major focus with your story development, since your audience will need to feel compelled to take action. Think about how you want your audience to feel while reading your story. Do you want them to feel anger, hopeful, sorrow or even joy? No matter your end goal, think about which emotion would have the biggest impact on their desire to help your nonprofit. Be careful on which words to use when trying to provoke an emotion; they will later “set the stage” for the audience’s action. Aim to use words or phrases that will lead them to take immediate action, like “join us” or “stand with us.”

The Conflict

Every story has a problem, and it’s usually up to the character to solve it. Your story’s problem should be cohesive with your nonprofit’s mission and should be relatable/solvable. Remember, you don’t want your audience to feel bad for the character, but connected.

In your story, the problem should be connected to the character’s personal experience. All in all, your story should explain the conflict’s roots and how it affects the life of the character.

The Solution

Your nonprofit’s story isn’t just about your characters and the problems they face; it’s also about how your organization provides solutions. No matter which direction your story takes, be sure to tell the reader, “We can only solve this problem with YOUR help.” Show the work your nonprofit has done to help people/places like your characters and the impact you bring to fix this problem.

Keep this in mind: If you can connect your characters to your nonprofit’s services, while educating your audience on the problem and encouraging them to be a part of the solution, you have successfully created a compelling story for your audience.

Calls to Action

Now that your audience is motived to help your business, end your story with a clear call to action (or CTA). Depending on your goal, your CTA may be different than others, but it needs to be action oriented. Common calls to action include volunteer, donate, fundraise and advocate. No matter which one you decide to use, make sure it’s clear and available for the audience to act immediately.

BONUS TIP: Where to Place on Your Website

Your story should be dedicated for one full page on your website, but it should also be sprinkled throughout your whole website. Create a page titled “Our Story” and place your narrative there. To heighten the urgency, try to find real-life “characters” to share their story and talk about the importance of your cause. This could even bee an added page to your website, titled “Stories of Hope” or something to that affect. You cannot overuse these kinds of stories, so place it wherever you can to reach your audience.

In summary, ask yourself these five questions to help you craft the best story for your nonprofit website:

  1. What kind of character will your audience respond to?
  2. What emotion do you want to provoke?
  3. What problem is your nonprofit trying to solve?
  4. How does your organization create the solution?
  5. What action do you want your audience to take after reading your story?

If you are planning to revamp your nonprofit website or are looking for someone to help create it, reach out to us today!

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Brooke Desmond

Communications Manager
With a passion for all things digital marketing, Brooke aims to give a unique perspective on the latest trends and ideas in this ever-changing space.

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