5 Ways to Weave Every Element of Your Nonprofit’s Story onto Pinterest

The only nonprofit marketing trend hotter than storytelling is visual storytelling. And the social media site Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board for interesting web pages and pictures, lends itself to visual storytelling techniques.

Stories make your nonprofit infinitely more interesting, just as pictures make stories more interesting. To shift the focus in your nonprofit marketing plan from uninspiring data to striking stories, take apart the classic storytelling formula. Like fairy tales that are pleasingly predictable, the elements of your nonprofit’s story involve an audience, conflict, characters, drama and a happy ending.

Use Pinterest for nonprofit storytelling with these five elements.


For your storytelling initiative to make an impact on Pinterest, know your nonprofit audience and craft your story accordingly. Pins don’t have to appeal to the people in your nonprofit, but they have to resonate with your audience somehow. Consider the profile of every audience member—volunteers, donors, supporters and the general public you want to sway. Pins should connect with one or more of these.


Little Red Riding Hood has the Big Bad Wolf, The Avengers have Loki, and the Yankees and Red Sox have each other. Every story has a villain or rival because conflict is an impetus for action. Your boards don’t have to be all doom and gloom, but pin pictures showing problems your nonprofit alleviates. Highlighting the conflict inspires new donors and reinforces existing support networks.


In the nonprofit sector and on your Pinterest page, the people you help are your story characters. Create boards that give your nonprofit’s beneficiaries a chance to speak, if only through pictures. Look to Operation Smile as an example. The nonprofit’s boards include “Patient Stories” and “New Smiles! Before & After Surgery.” For Operation Smile the result is a job well done and a story well told.


Audiences get wrapped up in stories because they become emotionally tied to the action. Identify the drama in your nonprofit’s story—like the happiness of the people you help or even pressure brought on by a natural disaster—and share it with pictures. Pinning dramatic photographs will inject emotion in your social media plan.

Happy Ending

While it’s true that not every story ends happily, the idealistic mood Pinterest inspires in users make happy endings appropriate. As Sarah Cohen of charity: water recently explained to Mashable, Pinterest is characteristically optimistic. Taking heed of Cohen’s insight, pin images expressing the joy your nonprofit brings others.

Make a conscious effort to weave all five of these story elements into your nonprofit’s Pinterest page. What kinds of storytelling images will your nonprofit share? 


Jill Havlat

May 18, 2012

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