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Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits


The most effective way to grow support and to keep donors engaged is by crafting authentic, real, emotional stories about the work that you do every day.

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More about This Book

Storytelling is the most effective way to grow support and to keep donors engaged. It’s all about crafting authentic, real, emotional stories about the work that you do every day.

Sharing gripping stories using social media is a powerful way to showcase the results of your work. Social media, combined with great websites, blogs, and email tactics, is being used successfully to raise awareness and substantially increase fundraising success.

But with all the digital tools available, how can you, as a busy nonprofit professional, choose where to place your focus? How do you identify, collect, and craft these wonderful stories that will compel people to take action? How can you mold these stories for each digital and social media platform? What are the steps you can take to develop a plan for your storytelling campaign, to ensure that you won’t just be spinning your wheels?

That’s where Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits comes in. Author Julia Campbell guides you every step of the way in a conversational, fast-reading style designed for busy nonprofit practitioners such as you. It will:

  • Show you where to find and how to collect the best stories about your nonprofit’s work and impact.
  • Describe the ways to tell an effective story, developing a narrative arc and hook, and how to focus on people versus programs in your stories.
  • Address the unique and very real challenges that nonprofits face when sharing stories about their work online, including confidentiality obstacles and reluctance on the behalf of staff and volunteers.
  • Give you tips on creating a culture of storytelling at your nonprofit, even if you have never told stories or used social media before.
  • Walk you through the steps required to identify, recruit, cultivate, and motivate your very own army of storytellers to spread the word about your cause.
  • Give you storytelling strategies that will turn your supporters from passive readers into passionate advocates.
  • Provide you with the nuts and bolts of creating a plan for a digital storytelling campaign.
  • Show you how to integrate storytelling into your nonprofit website.
  • Give you the basics of blogging for your nonprofit, as well as a brief description of the major blogging platforms.
  • Cover the best practices in nonprofit email marketing, how to build a powerful email list, and how to integrate email marketing efforts with your website and social media channels.
  • Explain the basic principles of using social media to tell your nonprofit story and how to best incorporate visuals in your social media storytelling.
  • Provide tips on using video to tell your stories, including leveraging the popularity and unique perspective of live streaming platforms.

Table of Contents

Part One: Making the Case for Storytelling

Chapter One: We Are All Storytellers

Chapter Two: Culture Shift: Creating an Army of Storytellers

Chapter Three: Creating a Storytelling Plan

Part Two: Building Your Storytelling Arsenal

Chapter Four: The Stories You Need to Tell

Chapter Five: Places to Find Great Stories Your Donors Will Love

Chapter Six: Stories That Turn People from Passive to Active

Chapter Seven: Addressing Common Challenges in Storytelling and Social Media

Part Three: Molding the Storytelling Gold: How to Promote Your Stories Using Your Website, Email, Blog, and Social Media

Chapter Eight: Your Nonprofit Website and Mobile Strategy

Chapter Nine: Storytelling Through Your Nonprofit Blog

Chapter Ten: Creating Great Nonprofit Emails that Inspire Action

Chapter Eleven: How to Use Social Media and Video for Storytelling

Chapter Twelve: Measuring Results and Building on Successes

Julia Campbell

Julia Campbell, MPA, has a long history of helping nonprofits find success using digital communications and online fundraising tools. After ten years in the nonprofit sector as a development director and marketing coordinator, she founded J Campbell Social Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency based in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Julia received her Bachelor’s in Journalism and Communications from Boston University, a Masters in Public Administration from Old Dominion University, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tidewater Community College.

A Beverly, Massachusetts native, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, mother of two, and lover of activism and social causes, Julia helps nonprofits connect with supporters by effectively harnessing the power and potential of online marketing and social media tools. Julia also offers small, group coaching sessions, workshops, seminars, and online training, and counts small, community-based nonprofits and large universities among her clients. Her blog was named one of the Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world and she is included in the Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing for 2014.

Julia has been featured on Maximize Social Business,, MarketWatch, Alltop, Salon, Social Media Today, Forbes, and Business 2 Community. Julia can be reached at her nonprofit blog.

About the In the Trenches Series

You’ll know an In the Trenches™ book not just by its cover, but by the author’s fun, upbeat writing style. But don’t be fooled by its down-to-earth approach and ample use of sidebars. In the Trenches books are authoritative and cover what a beginner should know to get started and progress rapidly, and what a more experienced nonprofit-sector practitioner needs to move forward in the subject.

























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