Nonprofits Telling Awesome Stories: charity: water (Part 1)

Woman drinking pumped water.

A woman drinking water from a charity: water well in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia. (Photo credit: Sacca)

I scroll through nonprofit websites and Facebook pages quite a bit hunting for stories that immediately grab and keep my attention. (Again, when I use the word story, I’m talk­ing about a true tale, nonfiction). I don’t usually find too many. Some are ok. But many are full of links to donation pages or press releases poorly written. Others don’t tell enough of a story and link nowhere. But a few are amazing.

Despite this, I strongly believe organizations have countless stories about the people they serve. They just have to dig them out (more on how to do that in previous posts). As I’ve said before, it can be difficult, and it’s time consuming.

The next series of posts focuses on nonprofits that are telling some amazing stories online. A few of the stories are older but good stories are timeless. This list is not exhaustive; please let me know if there are some great nonprofits stories I have missed.

Short Fundraising Posts on Facebook

So many people have written about charity: water as a model nonprofit in terms of online outreach that I hesitated to write about it again. But many of these posts are about its fundraising, which it does well. I’ll point out a couple of storytelling, fundraising posts that I liked, then I’ll move into some longer pieces.

Simple, yet impactful, here are a couple of posts from its Facebook page last year.

“Students of Balkumari School in Nepal used to get their water from a tiny stream 20 minutes away. When it dried up, the school was forced to close. But now that they have a tap station with clean water, there are no interruptions, and these kids get to spend a lot more time in the classroom. When you give clean water, one of the things you really give is education.

It’s a very short story, but you know from the first sentence that this nonprofit gets to know the people they are serving. Somebody on staff found out the stream is 20 minutes away. There isn’t room to expand, but for a fundraising story it doesn’t need to. It links to its website, and includes a fabulous photo.

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Serial Storytelling on Social Media

You know when you’re sitting around with a bunch of friends at dinner or over drinks (tea, coffee, or otherwise) trading life stories? When one person shares a story, others want to follow. That conversation is what nonprofits should be striving for with their audience.

Before I get into this post, I want to remind you and let new readers know I did a series of posts on storytelling and took you through the process from beginning to end. I looked at different examples of stories in the news and explained how staff at organizations can write similar pieces. (If you didn’t read the series, you really need to check it out!)

This post is more about how to write a serial story on social media. I’m not finding exactly what I’m looking for online, so I’m going to create an example here. And continued in part two, I’m going to give examples of nonprofits that are doing storytelling well.

I think the best position for this in an organization would be a roving reporter, likely in the communications division but it doesn’t have to be. By roving reporter, I mean someone who doesn’t sit at a desk all the time, but goes around talking to people face-to-face  getting the story out of people who sometimes don’t know they hold one.

So here’s what I think is a great way to go about telling a story on Facebook. You could also write the entire story in a blog post (or series) and promote snippets of that. (This is just an example; I know parts of this might seem a tad unrealistic).

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6 Easy-To-Remember Steps To Develop Your Social Media Strategy

Developing a social media strategy is one of the first steps to understand how to get your organization’s message out to the world.

It’s not easy. There are no quick fixes, but it’s not just about post­ing a few messages on your channels every week and responding to a couple of comments. It’s about devel­op­ing long-term rela­tion­ships, build­ing trust, and find­ing and bring­ing the right audi­ence to you.

You don’t want to post too many fundrais­ers or ask your audi­ence to par­tic­i­pate in too many cam­paigns with­out pro­vid­ing any use­ful con­tent, advice, or offer­ing to answer ques­tions. Oth­er­wise, you will alien­ate your audi­ence. You want to work on under­stand­ing what your goals are and what you want to give your audi­ence. If you give to them, they will be more will­ing to sup­port you.

The following series will walk you through six steps to develop this strategy — When, Who, Why, What, Where, and How.

Don’t just skip to the how part of this series. It doesn’t work that way!

1. Developing Your Social Media Strategy: When Should You Create This? Who is Your Audience? (Part 1)

2. Developing Your Social Media Strategy: Why Do You Need Goals? (Part 2)

3. Developing Your Social Media Strategy: What Platforms Are You Already Using? (Part 3)

4. Developing Your Social Media Strategy: Where is Your Audience Hanging Out? (Part 4)

5. Developing Your Social Media Strategy: How Will You Do This? (Part 5)

Plus, don’t forget to check out this post: Serial Storytelling on Social Media.