How telling your charity's story can strengthen engagement with your website

Tell your story - speech over book

One of the key things to consider when creating a charity website is your organisational story. This post contains 5 tips on how charities can integrate stories into their websites - with real-world examples of this being put into practice. 

Every charity has a story to tell.

Your story is especially powerful when integrated with distinct business objectives, such as driving donations, encouraging people to volunteer or raising awareness of a particular campaign or the organisation’s work as a whole.

A good charity website will integrate organisational and beneficiary stories into everything - navigation, design, copy and even interactive features. The deeper the user goes into the website, the more of the story they understand.

The case studies below show key ways of sharing your charity’s story through your website, but can also be applied to the full breadth of charity communications.

1) Integrate personal stories

How better to connect with users than sharing your stories. These could be your own charity journey or the stories of those you impact and work with. Those looking at your website want to know the motivation behind why, and the details of how you’ve made a difference.

The Malala Fund put girls front and centre on their website. It’s driven by the very personal story of Malala and every message reiterates the impact of supporting girls and uses Malala’s story as a primary example.

Screenshot-Malala

2) Take users on a journey

A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. So rather than bombarding your website viewers with information on your homepage, take them on a journey that reveals new information as they move forward. By guiding your users in this way to an action-focused endpoint you are more likely to achieve the desired positive response to your calls to action. Two scrolling websites we have designed have this concept at their heart.

The Look Up Project is all about encouraging people to dictate how they use technology, and to use it for good, rather than being controlled by it (there’s lots of good content too). With this in mind, we created a simple interface with the main navigation menu at the bottom rather than at the top.

Screenshot-Lookup

Cardboard Citizens is all about stories and using theatre to reach the homeless. We created a site that uses scrolling to introduce users to all the hive of activity of the charity. Cardboard Citizens create a compelling journey first by introducing their mission, then sharing the events on the go and finally making it personal by telling individual stories of “The Citz” and how theatre has changed their own life story!

Screenshot-CardboardCitz

3) Remember the detail

There are lots of charities out there and sometimes it pays to trust that your users are on your site because they really care about the nuances and details of your cause. Of course, this can’t be an excuse for verbosity, but don’t be afraid to add details.

Weaving details into the story provide weight to your message. The Bulgarian National Centre for Safer Internet works to enhance the digital literacy of children and young people. They created a website to educate young people on cyberbullying telling the message through an individual called Johnny. Jonny takes the users through cyberbullying by telling his own story. Click here to read his profile and his story.

Screenshot-Jonny

The user follows Jonny’s journey and see’s the impact of his decisions through story and illustration consequently educating viewers to the impact of online activity. Have a think about how you can use the details of your story to add depth to your content.

4) Create mechanisms for collecting, storing and sharing stories

There’s a tendency within the charity sector to see stories as only useful for feeding back to donors and using in monitoring and evaluation - we believe they are a whole lot more than that.

Step Together raise awareness of the benefits of volunteering for all involved, particularly the volunteers. They gather stories through capturing images of quotes from volunteers, posting them on Flickr and embedding the gallery on their website.

Screenshot-StepTogether

Gathering and documenting stories, either internally within your team, or externally, ensures you have quotes and stories to share on social media, in your newsletter, and internally to motivate staff members. The more organised this mechanism is the less work it will be, and the more confident you can be that it’s actually happening!

5) Tell your story creatively

The Refugee Project tells the story of the Refugee crisis across the globe over four decades by taking masses of data and combining it into an integrative and dynamic map. A huge volume of information is condensed onto a timeline that allows viewers to discover the story of the crisis in as much or little detail as they want.

The-Refugee-Project

How has your work benefited others? A website can tell this story in multiple ways - through focusing on the stories of those you impact, taking users on a journey, remembering the detail, creating story gathering and sharing mechanisms, and telling your story creatively.

Date: 
24 May 2016
Mary Mitchell