Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits

Posted on December 29, 2011. Filed under: Analytics |

This article by Christy Wiles highlights the importance of visual material and demonstrates that content which communicates the core message of your organization and encourages your audience to engage emotionally can have a monumental impact. I will take this idea one step further and add that video is an even more powerful medium to convey your story.

The technology required to broadcast your own content online is now accessible to anyone, and the costs associated with online streaming are now no longer prohibitive for organisations constrained by a limited budget. In addition, the ability to monetize your content enables nonprofit organisations to open a new source of untied funds through supporters viewing the content.

Kathie van 

Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits

A single photograph has the power to shift public policy, alter the course of wars, and engage civil society. In a time when photographs circulate around the globe at an unprecedented scale and speed, and revolutions are propelled by viral images, it has become more important than ever for mission-driven organizations to create impactful visual media that can drive action and fuel awareness. Most successful organizations have excellent and well-crafted visual media at the center of their communications strategies because the capacity of visual images to incite action is unparalleled.

Photographs and videos create options for supporters to share your message with their networks, exponentially building your audience. With a successful photo-essay or multimedia piece, organizations can attract partners, appeal to donors and grantmakers, influence policymakers, and perhaps most importantly, drive a movement. In an increasingly image-driven world, it is necessary for nonprofit organizations to capitalize on the undeniable power of visual storytelling to support their mission.

Nonprofits often believe they can’t afford excellent visual content, that it isn’t worth the effort, but there are many photographers and media producers looking to collaborate with nonprofits. Visual material that communicates the core message of an organization and encourages its audience to engage emotionally with the subject can have a monumental impact on advocacy and organizational success – not only in getting the word out, but in securing funding.

Here’s how the Bhopal Medical Appeal and the World Wildlife Fund did just that:

Bhopal Medical Appeal

The Bhopal Medical Appeal collaborated with photographer Alex Masi to capture the eyes and hearts of key media outlets around the globe and to expand the organization’s audience by leaps and bounds. Masi’s images of The Bhopal Medical Appeal were featured on the New York Times Lens Blog and TIME Photos. The visual story of the Bhopal Medical Appeal was subsequently awarded a Getty Grant for Good in 2011 after winning the 2011 Focus for Humanity NGO Assignment Fellowship. Without Masi’s powerful images and well-crafted visual essay, the story of The Bhopal Medical Appeal would not have reached the millions of people that it did.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal

Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) worked with photographer James Morgan to produce images that not only tell a story, but also draw viewers in and drive them to learn more about the organization. WWF has used Morgan’s visual imagery in their marketing collateral, their online gallery, and on their website. As a result of Morgan’s capacity for visual narrative, the organization has garnered attention from major international news sources including the Guardian, BBC News, and the New York Times.

World Wildlife Foundation

Photo by James Morgan on behalf of the World Wildlife Foundation

Of course, great photographs or a great video are only the first step to garnering support for an organization or driving a movement. After creating a stunning visual story, nonprofits must take the step of getting their images seen by as wide an audience as possible, integrating the images into all communications materials, from social media outlets to printed materials.

Christy WilesAuthor: Christy Wiles holds an MA degree in Theory of Contemporary Art from the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and a BA in Spanish and Latin American Literature from Reed College. At SFAI, Christy wrote her MA Thesis on Alfredo Jaar’s The Rwanda Project, looking specifically at the impact of photographic representations of Africa in the American media. Christy helped found the San Francisco-based digital photography publication, Once Magazine. Before relocating to San Francisco, she worked in New York with the Aperture Foundation, the International Center of Photography, and UnionDocs. Christy is thrilled to be working with PhotoPhilanthropy on marketing and exhibitions. Visit PhotoPhilanthropy for resources, to connect with photographers, learn tips for effective storytelling, or just to be inspired!

[Ed note: since the photos are being so well received, here’s a bonus shot.]

World Wildlife Foundation

Photo by James Morgan on behalf of the World Wildlife Foundation

Source: Visual Storytelling for Nonprofits –
Author: Christy Wiles, Marketing Manager, PhotoPhilanthropy

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5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website

Posted on December 2, 2011. Filed under: Analytics | Tags: , , , |

Google Analytics is baked right in to CommsConsole, so you can measure and monitor the success of your online communications campaigns including the impact they have on traffic to your website.

It’s all very good and well to have access to these reports, but sometimes we just need a little help to understand what they’re all about…that’s where this article comes to the rescue. 

5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool you can use to measure several things, including:

  • How people find your website
  • How long they stay
  • What they read
  • How many return

It will tell you how well your site converts donors and subscribers, and how you can optimize your to rank higher in SERPs.

Following are five reports that you can use to get more from your website:

1. Keywords Reports

Keywords Reports

This report will help you write better content using words that your visitors use! Use these top keywords to enhance your webpages so that they’ll rank even higher in search engines. Make sure you’ve included them in your title tags, your met descriptions, your first two paragraphs, and even your image alt text.

2. Referring Sites

Referring Sites

This report shows you where your visitors are coming from, so that you can develop strategies to get even more traffic from those sites. For example, if you notice that you’re getting a lot of returning visitors from a well-known blogger, you could develop that relationship into a partnership.

3. Top Content

Top Content

This report shows you the pages people view the most.

You should make sure these pages include a clear call to action, such as donate or join an email list. You could also add text links to strategically drive more traffic to other critical pages on your site.

4. Top Exit Pages

Top Exit Pages

This report shows you what pages people view before leaving your site. Look for any obvious reasons for people leaving on these pages, like bad design, external links, or slow page load times. You also want optimized to capture Facebook fans or email subscribers so you can at least keep in touch with them after they leave.

5. New Verses Returning

New Verses Returning

This report will show you what percent of your visitors return–essentially your fans.

If you’re losing fans, there could be a lot of reasons, but knowing the reasons is a first step to solving the problem. After viewing this, you could revisit your top exit pages to see if you can identify any trends. And as I mentioned before, the real money is in retaining fans and donors.

5 Google Analytics Reports That Will Help You Get More From Your Nonprofit’s Website –

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Measuring the Return on Relationships

Posted on October 17, 2011. Filed under: Analytics, Online Communications, Social Media Marketing | Tags: , , , , , |

I really like the discussions that are occurring with regard to the difference between standard business ROI and measuring the ROI of social media engagement, particularly in terms of philanthropic and nonprofit organisations. This guest blog article written by Claire Diaz Oritz (nee Williams) and posted on Beth’s Blog gives a great insight into how nonprofits and NGOs need to think about social media and I think she is on the money with her model: Return on Investment = Reach, Outcome, Influence.

Kathie van 

Measuring the Return on RelationshipsMeasuring the Return on Relationships by Claire Diaz Ortiz (nee Williams)

Last week, I started a discussion on Social Edge entitled, Fundraising, It’s Not Always About the Money ( I explained that while researching my new book, Twitter for Good (, I took a long, hard look at fundraising on social media and came to a new, startling conclusion: it’s not about the money. As I asserted, the real ROI (return on investment) of fundraising on new media is the relationships.

Although I opened the discussion, I didn’t take it far enough, and too many of you came away with the same, burning question: How can we measure the ROI of relationships?

Measuring the ROI of a marketing campaign can be time-consuming, but it’s always straightforward. Measuring the ROI of a fundraising campaign is equally simple. We spent $1,200 to send out 500 pieces of mail in our direct mail campaign and we netted $4,500 in donations. Done. We spent $50,000 to host our annual fundraiser and we received $200,000 in donations. Understood.

But relationships? How can you possibly measure the intangible?

What was the value of my first meeting with the lovely Beth Kanter a few years ago at the old Twitter offices, where we chatted for far too long about the highs and lows of adoption (and, a little bit about nonprofits and social media)?

Who knows. But I’ve written some guest posts, so I guess she doesn’t hate me.

What is the value of the strong connection I’ve built with Amanda Rose ( from Twestival (almost exclusively virtual save the frantic annual “we’re in the same place let’s have lunch!” phone call) over the years?

Don’t ask me. But she gave me a book endorsement.

What is the value of Amy Neumann’s ( ongoing, selfless offers to provide support on anything non-profit related on Twitter?

Got me. As far as I know she’s never made a donation to the non-profit I started (, but I’m sure she’s told some folks about it.

When trying to promote our cause to the world, we yearn for relationships. And to some extent, we all have relationships like this, relationships that we are cultivating or have cultivated or hope to cultivate. We know we need them, we know we should spend time with them, but we’re not entirely clear on how much, or why, especially when it comes to fundraising.

Or are we?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we can quantify these relationships (to some extent). Yes, we can break down the real ROI of fundraising on social media.And here’s how.If you know me, you know I’m fan of uber simple acronyms and word games that help people remember and implement what I’m teaching. Heck I did create the pathetically obvious T.W.E.E.T model (Target, Write, Engage, Excel, Track) ( for excelling on Twitter, didn’t I?

And now I’m going to do it again.

How to Measure the ROI of Fundraising on Social Media:

Fundraising on social media is about relationships, and we can measure the ROI of those relationships by breaking down the return on investment into three parts.

Return on Investment = Reach, Outcome, Influence

  • Reach: A relationship you develop becomes more important the larger the reach is. If Susie P has 9 friends on Facebook, and Susie Q has 900, Susie P is probably your better bet. But remember, reach isn’t always about numbers. See Influence to better understand.
  • Outcome: Any relationship that yields tangible benefits is working. Did a three-hour dinner in London with an international aid worker bring you one quality application (the aid worker’s Facebook friend, no less) for an outstanding position at your non-profit you’ve been trying to fill? Did you have a blast at the dinner to boot? Even better.
  • Influence: Is a person popular, or do they actually have sway in your given area of interest? In one example I share in Twitter for Good, Scott Stratten’s @unmarketing ( Twitter following (then about 40K) clicked more times on the link he sent out of him singing than Ashton Kutcher’s million followers did. Why? Perhaps Ashton’s followers are more interested in watching Ashton sing. Likewise, if @ClaireD ( were to tweet about sports, no one would bat an eyelash. Targeted reach is what you’re after.

Specific case studies back up these three points. Born2Fly ( is an organization dedicated to banishing sex trafficking, and Diana Scimone of Born2Fly’s excellent guest post ( here on Beth’s blog (which was reproduced in Twitter for Good ( tells the story of learning from a fundraising campaign that didn’t meet expectations. Her take-away? Build relationships with bloggers to better promote the next fundraiser. REACH.

Fireside International (, a non-profit media company in Haiti, needed English language learning materials for a new school they were building. They reach out to Rosetta Stone, and scored $18,000 worth of materials. Query a hundred individuals or companies, and one hit may just come through. OUTCOME.

Global Citizen Year (, another organization featured in my book, is another. The key support they received from Nick Kristof convinced them of the power of Twitter to build relationships in order to garner support. INFLUENCE.

Measuring these specific points will bring you an ROI with all the shiny numbers you’ve been hoping for.

Ultimately, the success of fundraising on social media highlights what we have always known: to fundraise effectively (in the virtual or the brick-and-mortar world), you need relationships. Be smart about building them, cultivating them, and maximizing them.

Measure them as well. It doesn’t make you mean, it makes you smart.

Claire Diaz Ortiz (nee Williams) leads social innovation at Twitter and wrote Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time (  Want more from Claire Diaz Ortiz? Follow @ClaireD (, read her blog at, or download the first chapter of Twitter for Good for free here (

Source:  Beth’s Blog – Measuring the Return on Relationships –


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Interview with Shonali Burke: Analytics Tell Stories

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Analytics | Tags: , , , , |

This interview has some very interesting insight into how Analytics can be used to monitor the success of social media campaigns and assist in defining goals and achievements. Interview with Shonali Burke: Analytics Tell Stories –


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