Designing for Good #3 – Best of 2016 Nonprofit Storytelling

June 23, 2016 Brandon Granger

This article was originally published on npENGAGE.

For this Designing for Good episode, we’re showcasing the best of nonprofit storytelling of 2016. Timely, but why is nonprofit storytelling such a hot topic these days?

Just think for a moment—how many appeals for support have you  received in your inbox or mailbox in your lifetime? Your eyes just rolled and you’re not a cynical person. But even the most wearied donor is roused at an authenticate story of an organization’s tangible results. Stories like:

  • A candid testimony of an nonprofit’s impact on a real person’s life
  • A volunteer sharing how investments of time became the fruits of change in their community
  • A nonprofit’s clever new solution to old problem with tangible outcomes

You know you’ve got these stories, but are you telling them? Because when potential supporters experience your real stories of impact, they will always want to join your fight. And that’s why nonprofit storytelling matters.

But no more sermonizing today because today it’s all about experiencing some epic nonprofit storytelling. Spielberg-esque production values, clever scripting, glitzy montage sequences, and enough moving narratives to make Godard feel warm & fuzzy.

So find some pearls of inspiration to elevate your most atomic stories because remember that great artists (and marketers) always steal.

#1 Save the Children: “Most Shocking Second a Day” (2 min)

A fictionalized composite of many Syrian refugee stories, this sequel short film to Save the Children’s 2014 film by Don’t Panic is a fast moving, visceral, and devastating cry for engagement and change. 



#2 Alzheimer Association of Portugal: “First Date” video (60 sec)

Another fictionalized experience of dealing with Alzheimers with loved ones begins light-hearted, but draws to an unexpected conclusion to bring the mission purpose home.



#3 World Vision: “Prayer for Syria” (90 sec)

Beautifully shot with no implicit call for support, “Prayer for Syria” is a neat hat trick of micro/macro storytelling. Top down, a montage sequence illustrates scope of Syrian refugees crisis while bottom up a simple prayer narrative evokes the vital role of supporters and the impact of World Vision’s mission. 



#4 War Child: “Moms” (60 sec)

This laugh-out-loud pitch for tribute giving from War Child is also a tribute to overworked mothers everywhere. Mature humor.



#5 Action on Addiction: “Fresh Start Initiative: Debbie’s Story” video (2 min)

Moving testimonial from Action on Addiction that seamlessly segue ways into a novel solution for helping the marginalized gain employment and ultimately personhood.



#6 Marine Stewardship Council: “Ocean to Plate” (60 sec)

Breezy, colorful awareness message for sustainable fishing by heroic designers Nice & Serious.



#7 Feeding America: “Four faces of Hunger” (website)

More shenanigans and greatness by Nice & Serious. Pixel-perfect interactive design using a “long page” design with parallax for Feeding America explains hunger through the four composite characters of Jessica, Alicia, Martin and Harold.



#8 Mutual Rescue: “Eric & Petty” short film (6 min)

A classic testimonial video which could be long at six minutes, but lovely animations and aerial drone shots keep things lively throughout. Hat tip to Vanessa Chase for sharing.



#9 Save the Children: “Paper Glasses” program story video (2 min)

Here’s a great lesson on how to explain an old problem, a novel solution, and clear impact in under two minutes by World Vision again.

Stay tuned for Designing for Good episode #4 soon and please share your proud storytelling examples below. We’d love to see them!


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