Digital Storytelling Techniques Boost Fundraising Success

By August 11, 2020Fundraising, Nonprofit

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, nonprofits feel the pinch. Many face record shortfalls. Some who relied upon in-person fundraising activities find it hard to adapt to the new digital world where business and personal events have shifted to the ubiquitous video conference.

Those nonprofits who have never conducted digital fundraising campaigns face a steep learning curve as they embrace the new normal (a phrase we’ve all heard since the pandemic started in March). As you begin your online fundraising efforts, you’re faced with a myriad of choices. What marketing tactic do you use, and when? How do you engage potential donors when so much vies for their attention online? How do you make your story stand out in their newsfeeds or emails?

The following guide to the best digital storytelling techniques can help your digital fundraising activities go from ho-hum to homerun. Ready? Let’s get started.

Establish a Successful Marketing Platform

  1. Review your current marketing plan. Has it been updated since the pandemic? If not, now is the time to update the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis section, competitive analysis, and target audience.
  2. Look at what your competitors are doing to raise funds or generate sales. Where are they running ads?
  3. Where are your donors congregating online? Do they like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube? Once you understand your target market, begin to assess various advertising platforms for your fundraising campaign, and start a list of possible platforms to place ads.
  4. Set up online payment portals or gateways to collect and record funds from the campaign.
  5. Gather the stories to share in your fundraising campaign from those who your nonprofit has helped. Ensure that if you use anyone’s name or likeness, you have a signed consent form on file.

Two Powerful Digital Storytelling Techniques for Nonprofit Fundraising

Take a cue from the for-profit world of advertising and use these proven techniques to elicit responses. Each of these powerful storytelling techniques can be adapted to nonprofit fundraising with just a few adjustments. These basic formulas have been used for decades to sell products. Why not use them to generate funds for a good cause?

The AIDA Formula

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. It’s a way of writing material to grab attention and interest, spark the desire for action, and inspire the action. In nonprofit fundraising, a compelling headline grabs attention while success stories and pictures generate interest.

To spark the desire to help, you must tell the story in such a way that it appeals to the emotions. Then, ask for the desired action—in this case, a donation. Make it easy for people to donate by creating a direct landing page for the campaign with links to online donation forms or buttons to click to donate.


The problem-solution-result-ask formula is often used in case studies to showcase how a company solved a problem, and, by extension, could solve the same problem for the potential customer reading the case study. Nonprofits can adapt this formula by thinking of it in terms of the problem brought to their attention, the solution they applied, the results achieved, and asking for donations to continue such work.

Perhaps you have seen advertisements from animal shelters on television or online. These are classic problem-solution-ask ads. These ads typically start by showing the problems—abandoned pets, sick dogs, injured cats. Next, the scene shifts to the solution—pets frolicking with new owners, shiny eyes and coats, injuries healed. The solution is the shelter’s activities and the dedicated people working there. Such commercials end with the ask and the offer. They ask for donations, offer something in return (the feeling of helping, a gift), and ask again, providing clear and easy methods for donating to the organization.

This formula has worked well for many nonprofit organizations and charities, including food banks, homeless shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation charities, educational organizations, and medical charities. It can work for many types of nonprofits, and it may work well for yours!

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.