Tag: Jennifer Aaker

Making Nonprofits Shine: Infusing great stories in your next social media campaign

Having a persistent and strong desire to bring awareness to your favorite charity is a great feeling. Telling friends to show up for events to support clothing and food drives, collecting donations for a run/walk to provide much-needed funds for research, and volunteering hours to fight for what matters most in communities brings positive outcomes to nonprofit organizations. After events, what’s next?

I recently started studying what makes some charities shine and others fail to perform. In today’s super chatty social media space, it seems impossible to not reach goals when creating campaigns for charitable causes. Challenging the next best charity event to perform at optimum speed has become more of a “wait” and “see” game.

If the right people with that “it” factor spread the word, your campaign will last a little longer. But don’t get too excited.  Even the super cool and popular people can lose traction getting the word out about important events to raise awareness. The answer to what’s next is to tell impactful stories about your charity. Building strong brand stories around your charity purpose will not only build trust but also gain access to a diverse audience of supporters.

Leaning solely on “shouting out” and sharing announcements about events on social media doesn’t work when campaign strategies are not designed to reach the right audience. What works effectively is creating and tailoring brand stories and moving images dedicated to stirring emotions and tailoring authentic messages. Most importantly, reaching out for support should connect what matters to potential donors and others willing to get involved.

I found a phenomenal story in a McKinsey Quarterly article titled, The Power of Storytelling: What nonprofits can teach the private sector about social media

The article references a case study from the Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith: The Dragonfly

The excerpt discusses the great work of Scott Harrison. Mr. Harrison was a successful fashion promoter that excelled at bringing models and hedge-funds kings together, and selling $500 bottles of Vodka. Mr. Harrison sported nice jewelry, clothes, cars; everything young men dream of. After years of having everything, Mr. Harrison’s passion for the rich life fizzled. He wanted to make a difference. He walked away from everything to start a nonprofit to bring awareness to diseases and medical problems related to inadequate access to clean water.

Watch and listen to Scott Harrison’s amazing story here: Charity Water

Harrison’s organization gained incredible success because of the following design principles of engagement:

“Tell a story”

  • Viewers fell in love with his cause because he evoked themes of “redemption,” “change,” and “hope” by discussing why and how he started his charity in media interviews and YouTube videos.

“Empathize with your audience”

  •  Harrison promoted compelling stories.

 “Emphasize Authenticity”

  •  Commitment to transparency by sharing results of donor’s generosity.

 “Match the media with the message”

  • Create distinctive messages for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites.

Here’s the Dragonfly Effect model:


Because Harrison’s story and the Dragonfly’s Effect are super awesome examples of making nonprofits shine, I will end with one of my favorite quotes:

“It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.” Dalai Lama

Donate to Charity Water