Nonprofit Video Strategies: What and Why Driven Stories

3 min read
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In the realm of nonprofit video strategies, there are two pivotal approaches to storytelling: why-focused and what-focused-based narratives. While these methods often intersect, their starting points and impacts differ significantly. Understanding these differences is crucial for your nonprofit communications strategy, as it guides when and how to use each method for maximum impact.

What-Based Stories in Nonprofit Video Strategies

A playlist of what-based story examples

A what story emphasizes sharing the facts, including the details of who, what, when, and where. Televised news communicates this way. These stories lead with the facts and focus on them, often informing an audience on a topic.

The people that do this the best is Vox Media. Their stories are creative and visually appealing using mixed media. Vox's stories are entertaining while educating in a digestible manner.

When to use what stories?

It's best to use what-focused stories, such as explainers or systems and processes when sharing information. Animated or live-action videos pair well with "what stories." The hard facts are the main storytelling approach here.

Examples of what-based stories includes but not limited to:

  • Explainer video of your nonprofit.
  • Program overviews.
  • Event recaps.
  • Topical educational explainers.

Why-Based Stories in Nonprofit Video Strategies

A playlist of why-based story examples

Why-focused stories clothe the facts in a beautiful story that focuses on a person, their desire, and their journey. Rather than facts driving the narrative, the character's journey takes center stage. These stories are inherently emotional, resonating deeply due to their focus on human experiences, desires, and challenges.

The key to a successful why story in your nonprofit communications strategy is a character with a strong motivation. This motivation is their deep reason for pursuing their desire or your nonprofit's existence.

When to use why stories?

It's best to use why-based stories when you want to connect with your audience and share facts. Live action works great with these stories because they're human-centered. The heart of the character is the storytelling approach here.

Examples of why-based stories include but not limited to:

  • Employee profiles.
  • Your nonprofit's origin or transformation story
  • Volunteer journey stories.
  • Impact stories show your values in action.

Check out our article on the benefits of personal storytelling to learn more about connecting with your audience. 

Tailoring Your Approach for Your Nonprofit

Your desired outcome is the guiding star in choosing the right storytelling approach for your nonprofit video strategy. Are you aiming to raise funds or elucidate a complex policy? Your goal will steer you towards a what or a why approach, with potential overlaps.

In our experience, why-based stories often hold an edge in nonprofit video storytelling, especially when the goal is to move people to action. They do more than inform; they build empathy and inspire. When we touch people's hearts, we can move them to act. Fact sharing isn't storytelling. Telling a story is sharing a significant emotional experience (S.E.E.). As Annette Simmons says, share your S.E.E. so that others see your perspective. 

No matter how juicy the facts are, facts alone do not help people experience another person's perspective. Facts inform, but they don't connect. Nonprofits like yours are in the business of connecting people. 

For more insights on effective storytelling and nonprofit video strategies, visit our insights page.

Tagged: Storytelling

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