visual storytellingDid you know that people retain 80 percent of what they see?

If you were to come and visit me at my social enterprise, you’ll hear me telling my marketing team to always keep the copy brief and make it about the image.

Nonprofits have it tougher, I think, than a lot of businesses. They have to convey an idea. They have to move people to donate about a cause, which is not a product. You can’t see, touch and feel poverty or hunger, for example. Charities should master visual storytelling.

There’s an incredible opportunity to leverage and amplify your nonprofit brand with good visual storytelling. With something as basic as a smartphone, you can create livestreams, videos and visual art that engages your supporters. With digital and social media, it’s so easy for your followers to see your images, engage, comment, repost and send to others.

So you can master visual storytelling, here’s what I do with my team:

  • Singular Image: When my team is looking to do what we call our “social media art” or “digital art” we ask ourselves if the image is compelling on its own, without any copy or text. If it is, we use it. If it’s not, we don’t use it. It’s as simple as that. The image has to stand on its own. My social enterprise is a shoe drive fundraising social enterprise. You’ll see lots of images of sneakers.
  • Show Your Work and Your Team: If you see some of our livestreams, you’ll notice that we walk around the office and we get our team members to talk. I’m sure you’re wondering why you would want to do that, but social media “rules” are different than traditional marketing. Social media is much more casual. I called my blog “Not Your Father’s Charity” for a specific reason. I wanted to send the signal to everyone that doing what others did in the past is not how you’re going to be successful today. You want to attract young Millennials. You have to expand your base. You’re not going to hook into young people by doing the old school things. This generation wants to know all about you. So get out from behind the camera and show your face every once in a while.
  • Graphic Design: Your images are easy to manipulate with tools such as Picasso and Canva. You can take great pictures on your smartphone and then add some relevant text. With my marketing team we’ll use images and then combine them with awesome quotes. We use this type of art all the time on social media to engage and capture the imagination of our followers around the work we do each and every day.
  • Create a Facebook Page: We all know that Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the world. I used to say if I can’t find you on Google, you don’t exist. Well, if I can’t find your nonprofit on Facebook, you don’t exist. One of the things I would do if I were still running a nonprofit organization is to schedule weekly images on the social media management queue. I would pin an excellent and compelling image to the top of the page. Tell your followers to share your images in your posts. Don’t be shy. Use your images as a call to action to help you promote and spread word about your brand.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or even any money to get your story out there visually in a winning way. And, with today’s apps and web-based software, you needn’t be an expert in technology or design. Every social sector organization, no matter their size or budget, can now master visual story telling.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Be Bold, Dominate and Succeed in Marketing For Today’s Digital World On A Limited Budget” (Free Digital Download)

 © 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.