Showcase your nonprofit’s successes

Good stories can be a great way to engage donors.

So your nonprofit should tell stories about the difference it is making in the lives of the people you serve.

Keep your stories simple, and use details to make them sing. Do not downplay the problems you address, and do not overplay the impact you have. Keep it real.

Talk about the need you address. Explain its causes. They may be complicated, so make them easy for anyone to understand. Avoid jargon and technical explanations. Use every-day words.

Describe how the problem you address affects people. Spare no details, even if they seem unpleasant. Strive to be candid, without either sugarcoating reality or rubbing your readers’ noses in it. Your story lies in the details of real life, told clearly and honestly.

Talk about the services your nonprofit provides.  Explain what you do, why you do it, who you serve, and the difference you make in their lives. Again, details matter. They bring your story to life.

Describe the supporters and partners you count on. You may be part of a complicated collaborative effort. So explain the partners’ roles and responsibilities, and make clear how and why your partnership works.

And use one or two key pieces of data to show your actual impact. Be selective in which data you select. Do not swamp your readers with a lot of numbers.

Donors increasingly want to see a measurable return on their investment, and you can use data to help donors see the impact of contributed dollars.

Post your stories on your website. Feature them in your newsletter. Run short versions in your fundraising materials. Consider turning them into short videos that highlight your work and its impact on the people you serve. And use social media to drive readers to the stories and videos you post.

Donors want to know why they should care, and why they should support you.

Show them by telling stories that are clear, concise, candid and compelling.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

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