Storytelling Success: HONY

You already know that storytelling is an amazingly effective tool to get donors to connect to your cause and your mission.

(And if you need inspiration, check out these 7 story archetypes to ramp up your fundraising appeals.)

But to understand how stories can electrify a cause’s fundraising campaign, look no further than Humans of New York (a.k.a. HONY), a photo essay blog founded in 2010 by photographer and Millennial social activist, Brandon Stanton.

Luckily for the humans of New York — and the world! — Stanton was not content to merely turn HONY into a passive revenue-generating stream for himself.

He decided to “use his powers for good,” as they say, and leverage his success by directing his millions of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter followers to causes that matter and individuals who are impacted by them.

NewsCred just released a fascinating article that examines how social media and storytelling have combined to produce blockbuster success for HONY and the people and programs Stanton highlights.

While he has traveled across the globe to share stories of amazing and everyday people, Stanton’s latest series hit a little closer to home for him.

Over the course of two weeks, Stanton met with the patients, doctors, caregivers, researchers, nurses, and families that make up the human ecosystem of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, located on New York City’s Upper East Side.

Through over 50 Facebook and Instagram posts, Stanton spread awareness about pediatric cancer and the emerging medical advancements to treat rare and highly progressive cancers. Best of all, the series raised $3.8 million dollars from over 100,000 donors that were moved by the Humans of New York content – all in a little over 14 days.

$3.8 million? 100,000 donors? Fourteen days?

It’s the kind of grassroots, mission-driven fundraising that most nonprofits can only fantasize about.

But it doesn’t have to be a dream! The key to HONY’s success lies in Stanton’s ability to capture the inherent, fundamental worth of the subject being photographed, and to pull the reader in with their story.

And since HONY is a social media-based storytelling outlet, Stanton has proved that a story does not have to be a particularly long one.

The story just has to resonate.

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