Storytelling has long been the golden egg of the nonprofit content marketing strategy. It’s an effective strategy; good stories are engaging. Unfortunately, well-written, compelling stories are everywhere nowadays, making it harder to distinguish yours from the noise.

That’s not to say well-told stories are a thing of the past. Far from it. But what can you do to make your nonprofit stand out? Take a cue from good cause moguls like TOMS shoes and Warby Parker – leverage your position as a storydoer rather than merely a storyteller.


I’m willing to bet that you’re not entirely sure what storydoing means. And, that’s fair. Storydoing sounds like a completely made up word. But, even if you’re not familiar with the term, I have a feeling the general concept isn’t unknown to you.

Storydoing uses action to advance a narrative. That reads about as clear as mud, I know. Simply put, it’s actively contributing to the events of a story instead of reporting it from the sidelines. It defines your purpose.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait. Isn’t this what nonprofits do?” And, you’re right. It is. Nonprofits are natural storydoers, but most aren’t promoting themselves this way. Luckily, now is a great time to start.

Why Should You Care?

There are approximately 2.3 million nonprofits in the U.S. This is really inspiring to hear, but it means there’s likely to be some cause overlap in terms of who/what all of these organizations support. This puts a lot of pressure on you, the content marketer, to develop new, creative ways to promote your nonprofit – like storydoing.

A rise in social mentions, increased levels of social engagement and lowered media costs are just a few of the benefits reported by storydoing organizations in the for profit world. And, it’s about time nonprofits start reaping these benefits in a similar way.

Not Buying It?

Telling the story of your nonprofit is effective. It’s important for people to know why you exist. But, focusing on the action that drives your nonprofit is powerful. Your impact is what matters most to many of your website visitors.

Just think of TOMS shoes–wildly popular and one of the first storydoers. The focus is on the action: buying to give. People who buy TOMS shoes, keep buying TOMS shoes. It’s not a one-time thing. They become loyal supporters because they know this action has impact. Supporters are not just contributing to the story; they’re driving it forward.

As a nonprofit, you’re already doing this. Storydoing is your business. You likely exist to act. Why not own it?

Consider a few of the benefits.


Supporters feel like they play an irreplaceable role in the success or failure of your mission. This sense of responsibility makes them much more likely to remain loyal to your nonprofit through continued support.


Supporters who feel more connected to your nonprofit are going to want to deepen their relationship with you. This means signing up for your newsletter, donating, engaging with you on social media, attending your events, etc. They’re going look for ways to become more engaged with your story because they know that it matters.

You Become a Solution

Doers don’t just talk about an issue. They solve problems. Highlighting yourself as a storydoer moves you from the category of “trying to make a difference” to “actively making a difference.” It may seem like a small tweak in wording, but in terms of perception, the two are miles apart.

If you’re wondering how you can make storydoing a bigger part of your nonprofit’s web content, stay tuned. We have some ideas coming down the pipeline soon.

What are your thoughts on storytelling vs. storydoing? Do you have experience with storydoing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of Ginny