Charity: water is often the gold standard for fundraising and storytelling in the non-profit sector. There's a good reason for this. They are excellent at what they do. Whether it's crowdfunding, web design, or video storytelling, the team at charity: water is on the leading edge.
I've been a long-time admirer of their video storytelling. It's beautiful, full of emotion, and draws the viewer right in. Of course, that's easy to do when you have a budget for production. Even so, with the astronomical rise of video content across internet channels we're seeing more video that isn't perfectly polished. This means a great time for non-profit professionals to get out that smart phone and start filming.
In the following video, I'm sharing five easy-to-use storytelling tips that we can learn from Charity: Water. No fancy equipment needed!
- 1Think Narrative, not just story
- 2Emotions and details are what make Charity Water stories memorable
- 3Invite your community to share their stories and take part in the organization’s narrative
- 4Have a clear problem and protagonist for the story
- 5Great stories convey a theory of change
TIP #1: THINK NARRATIVE, NOT JUST STORY
Charity Water creates a narrative throughout their full campaigns and collection of videos and media communication. It is not just the stories that Charity Water showcases individually, but all together creates a narrative about the “theory of change” behind the organization’s work.
Need help in creating a narrative for your nonprofit organization? Click on the following articles I made to help you in this matter:
- Get to know your audience before creating a narrative: 5 Ways to use your audience persona to tell a better story
- Create a narrative using these four easy steps
TIP #2: EMOTIONS AND DETAILS ARE WHAT MAKE CHARITY WATER STORIES MEMORABLE
If you watch any of the Charity Water stories, you will get all the emotions through the screen. The organization focuses on showing all the small details and sharing the story and day to day life of the communities that will benefit with the cause.
By showing how a young girl gets water from a filthy pond on a daily basis, and showing her expressions, it helps that the viewer connects with this person in the video and helps to better understand the difficulties that these communities have to overcome each day.
These feelings and emotions are memorable for the spectators and encourage them to get involved with the organization and donate.
TIP #3: INVITE YOUR COMMUNITY TO SHARE THEIR STORIES AND TAKE PART IN THE ORGANIZATION’S NARRATIVE
In the case of Charity Water’s YouTube channel, we are able to find lots of videos about the journeys, about donors, all the people who work and are involved in the projects and many thank you videos to everyone involved. These videos make viewers feel part of their story.
A great example of this is the following video that tells the story of Nora, a 6 year old, who decided to collect some of her money and donate it to Charity Water. She wants to help people to get access to safe drinking water.
This video tells us what was her motivation and we can also see that she got involved with the organization’s cause after watching one of their videos in social media shared by one of her relatives. Talking about transmitting emotions!
TIP #4: HAVE A CLEAR PROBLEM AND A PROTAGONIST FOR THE STORY
In every Charity: Water video we can understand the problem and then what is the solution proposed.
- PROBLEM: Dirty Water
People have a clear problem and it is repeated through all the communication efforts and stories that they tell, so that people are always aware of the problem.
TIP #5: GREAT STORIES CONVEY A THEORY OF CHANGE
The theory of change for Charity: Water is very clear and straightforward:
- PROBLEM: Some communities in developing countries don’t have access to clean water.
- ESTATEMENT: Access to clean water can change everything.
- SOLUTION: Charity: Water improves their access to clean water.
Just like Charity: Water mentions the problem, it is key that they mention constantly how they are part of the solution and this theory of change is repeated also in all of the stories they share.
Lights, Camera, Action!
I hope these 5 tips help you better when creating a narrative for your organization. I have also prepared a Storytelling checklist that can work as a guideline for you, when creating stories that generate impact.
I'm delighted to see more non-profits using video to tell their story and connect with audiences. Whether you use Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or something else, you're doing the hard work of putting yourself out there and for that I'm giving you a round of applause!
If your organization hasn't dabbled too much in video, find some time to play around with it this summer and get comfortable so that you can use video during your year-end campaign.