The digital revolution has opened up a new world of fundraising possibilities for nonprofits, but it’s not all good news. The attention span of internet users is now just a few seconds. It’s more important than ever to grab the attention of consumers online — and create the emotional connection that’s crucial for meaningful engagement.

Visual storytelling is just as important to the nonprofit sector as it is for the business world. Powerful images can be processed thousands of times faster than text, allowing you to provoke an emotional response in the short time consumers engage with your website.

Budgetary considerations will always be a factor for nonprofits, but it’s important to remember that good visual storytelling doesn’t have to cost the earth — if you have a strategic plan of action in place.

Do Some Research

To tell an effective visual story, you need to know your audience — and what they want from you. Analyze previous posts and online communications to see which of them performed and which didn’t. Identify instances of visual storytelling that delivered results, and adapt them to future projects.

Create an Action Plan

Once you have identified the specific audience your visual storytelling needs to connect with, it’s time to create an action plan. Make a list of SMART goals based on your research and what you want your story to achieve. For example, do you want to persuade people to donate? Do you want to sell tickets for a charity dinner? Or do you simply want people to sign up for newsletters or email updates?

Create a Story

While you have an important message to get across, you need to craft a story that will resonate with your target audience. What you’re creating needs to be engaging, exciting, informative and entertaining — all at the same time. Meet with colleagues and employees to brainstorm story ideas. For example, you might want to highlight one of your organization’s previous success stories. Or you may want to tell an inspirational story about someone you have helped in the past.

Create Your Own Visual Content Library

Once you have a plan and a story in place, you should know exactly what visuals you need to bring everything together on the screen. Photos, animations, testimonials, filler images and banners are just some of the resources you’ll need to collate in your library.

Engage With Your Audience

Consumers expect more from nonprofit websites than information and storytelling these days. To enhance the efficacy of your visuals, try to engage with website visitors wherever possible. If people are leaving comments on your website or social media channels, reply when appropriate, and try to get conversations started. This is also a great way of getting some feedback on your online resources.

Track Progress

You will never really know whether your visual storytelling is effective until it has gone live. Track progress with analytical tools, and compile any feedback you receive. Don’t be afraid to tweak or make wholesale changes to visuals that just aren’t delivering results.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Visual storytelling is a complex and precise process that relies on significant amounts of data, skill and experience. While you can keep the process in house, there are also reasons why you may wish to outsource all your online visual storytelling. The biggest consideration when deciding whether DIY or outsourcing is the best option is money. If you’re a relatively small nonprofit, chances are the budget for an important process like this simply won’t be there.

You also have to consider whether you have the skills within your organization to keep things in house. Although outsourcing comes at a cost, it ensures visual storytelling is executed effectively. And even if your team possesses the necessary skills, taking on this task will take key individuals away from their day-to-day duties.

With some careful thought, planning and the necessary technical skills, visual storytelling on your nonprofit’s website can deliver the desired results.