When you’re telling your nonprofit’s story – from your mission to the people behind the scenes – there’s always a good opportunity to show rather than tell.  When done right, visual storytelling can make a meaningful and memorable impression. 

We’re not discounting the importance of strong content writing, but we also know that a visual can be a powerful way to accompany, aid or augment the content you have. Let’s get started by taking a look at the benefits of using imagery and some visual storytelling ideas.

How Visual Storytelling Ideas Can Be Effective

Pictures are powerful. They can educate, inspire and compel action. The popularity of visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest reflect a visual culture that’s increasingly popular. Visual storytelling can really enhance your marketing and messaging, and make something clearer, more prominent or just easier to understand.

Evoking Emotion

People connect with pictures. Using emotion can be a real asset in your visual storytelling. Effective visuals produce stronger and quicker reactions than words. The very nature of nonprofit work lends itself to an emotional element, whether it’s the heartrending problem you’re addressing or the grateful people who have benefited from your services. Simply put, visuals can help craft a story that strikes that emotional chord in your audiences.


Visual storytelling ideas can be incorporated on virtually any part of your website to help illustrate the full scope of your nonprofit’s mission, from the need to the impact. People want to see the individuals who are part of your story, whether it’s the students in need of help or the volunteers rolling up their sleeves. Another place to utilize images could be on your About Us page to give visitors a more intimate look into your organization.

Visuals can also brighten up calls to action and bring annual reports and other collateral to life. And don’t forget social media. It’s not a coincidence that the most popular posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ tend to have images. Think of ways you can use visuals on this medium, such as posting pictures as part of a multi-part story series on your nonprofit.

Visual Storytelling Ideas

Now that we’ve looked at some of the benefits, let’s take a look at some visual storytelling ideas you could incorporate.

Photo Essays

Photo essays are a great visual storytelling idea for your nonprofit. They can be assembled in a way that is both contextual and compelling. A simple arrangement of photos can make a strong and memorable impression. Compassion International is one nonprofit that takes photo essays to a new level. Under the banner of “Words Just Aren’t Enough,” the poignant and powerful photos in the visual section illustrate this nonprofit’s work in a memorable way.

One of their photo essays focuses on children playing with toys. The goal of the photo essay is to show how a toy can represent so much more to children in poverty. The text is minimal and is just enough to set the stage.




Videos can marry sound and picture in a meaningful way. But they don’t all have to be overly produced and stylized. This video from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption shows how effective video can be. The video is shot in black and white and just sixty seconds long, but it packs an emotional punch in a way that content alone couldn’t do.


Statistics are great, but how can you bring them to life? When you have to represent numbers, infographics can make dense data more accessible and interesting. USAID has made the infographic an art form. One of their visuals breaks down numbers and data in a way that not only makes sense, but also makes an impact.



Visuals can resonate with visitors and make your work more understandable and memorable. So don’t be afraid to utilize visuals for more effective ways to tell your nonprofit’s story and connect with your audience.

Are you taking advantage of visual storytelling for your nonprofit? Have any other visual storytelling ideas to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.