How to Use Storytelling + Technology to Showcase Your Nonprofit’s Work


By Shannon Ritchie, AJ Fletcher Foundation, & Dawn Crawford, BC/DC Ideas

Nonprofits have amazing outcomes to share.

  • “5,000 more meals served!”
  • “150% more kittens saved!”
  • “12 fewer trees cut down due to innovative recycling measures!”

Through digital tools, nonprofits can share these success stories with panache. The most exciting part of sharing your stories online versus in print is the ability for the content to live on past your latest batch of documents. The possibility for a digital report to reach more people goes far beyond who you ever could with a traditional, printed annual report. With more and more donors using mobile technology, it’s important for nonprofits to be ready.

The AJ Fletcher Foundation (AJF) launched an entirely digital annual report, an innovative blend of storytelling and technology to highlight grantee stories. The project was created in collaboration with the BC/DC Ideas team.

This project is a great learning tool for nonprofits, regardless of their budget. “We strived to create an annual report that used modern web technology with a small budget, and we’re very pleased with the results,” said Shannon Ritchie, Director of Digital + Innovation at AJF. “We wanted our yearly report to serve as a conversation starter, rather than desk decoration.”

It can seem daunting for nonprofits to use web engagement strategies for storytelling and sharing impacts, but it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to be smart. The techniques used by the AJF project, incorporating technology and innovative design, can be applied to annual reports, social sharing, websites and more.

Here are some ways that nonprofits of any size can start using digital tools to tell their story online:

  • Use infographic web applications to visualize your data – The AJF annual report uses simple infographics and subtle animations to quickly tell the story of real impacts made in the past year. Nonprofits can tap into easy-to-use online programs to build great visuals with your impact stories. Try a few of these:
  • Play around with “parallax” website templates in WordPress – The AJF annual report uses innovative parallax web development technology. This new website technology plus an innovative scrolling content-aware navigation on the left side takes visitors on a journey through the story allowing the reader to browse through each grantee story or jump to the impact areas that mean the most to them. With a little bit of time and basic website knowledge, any nonprofit can use a WordPress template with some of these features built right in. Start your hunt for a new theme on these sites:
  • Use hashtags and social sharing features to start a conversation – Creating a digital annual report allowed AJF to create a space for conversation on social media with hashtags and easy sharing features. Nonprofits can create a simple hashtag around a program, research or event, and curate the conversation.
  • Be ready for mobile visitors with a “responsive design” site – The annual report website is also “responsive” so regardless of how individuals access the site whether from their mobile phones, tablets or website have the same experience. Building a responsive site is a huge money saver for nonprofits. This allows you to avoid creating a mobile app. Many WordPress themes have this technology built right in, start your theme selection on these sites:

About The AJ Fletcher Foundation – The mission of Fletcher Foundation is to support nonprofit organizations in their endeavors to enrich the lives and well-being of people in North Carolina. To achieve this, AJF partners with nonprofit organizations that recognize and solve social and civic problems, and provides resources to advance big, bold ideas. Learn more at

About BC/DC Ideas – BC/DC Ideas is an independent, full-service agency that specializes in creating meaningful communications that makes a difference. Working exclusively with nonprofits, we bring our passion for storytelling, design, fundraising and sound strategy to help our clients achieve greater impact. Our team draws on extensive experience in nonprofit and corporate communications, marketing and advertising, and our greatest joy is working with clients who want to change the world. Learn more at