Fundraise Smarter

7 Free Visual Storytelling Tools for Nonprofits [SlideShare]

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Mar 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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You know the importance of storytelling. You know the importance of data. You know the importance of using visuals to communicate with donors.

And you know that if you put all of these things together, the skies will open up and you’ll ascend into fundraising Nirvana.

Or something like that.

The problem is: how the hell do you do that?!

You’re not a designer! Your nonprofit doesn’t have a full-time designer on staff. Even if they did, you can’t wait around for them to send you material. You need visual data and stories and you need it now!

Easy now, help is on the way. I put together a list of my favorite visual content creation tools that will make you look like a design expert, even without a lick of experience.

Check out the in depth list below, or speed through the SlideShare at the bottom of the post!


If you’ve ever thought you need Photoshop to make compelling visuals, Canva is out to prove you wrong.

Canva is web-based (so you can use it anywhere), simple, and best of all free.

Sign up for an account, and choose one of their hundreds of templates to get started. Canva has templates for Facebook cover photos, infographics, posters, and one of my favorites, Instagram posts.

Change out the background picture to something related to your organization, throw an inspirational quote on top with one of their fancy free fonts, and you’ve got a super shareable post to help tell your nonprofit’s story!

Infographics are cool, but you know what’s even cooler? Animated infographics! helps take your visual data to the next level, all without any design or computer coding skills needed. Choose a template, enter your data, then watch it come to life.

You can embed them directly onto websites too!

Infogr.ams work best with representing data that changes over time. For example, changes in the poverty level across several decades. This is a great way to visually communicate need via data.


I probably visit Unsplash more than I visit Facebook (...maybe). Unsplash provides beautiful, high-resolution photos that you can use on your blog, in emails, wherever, for free. The photos are all released with a Creative Commons Zero license, meaning not only are they free, but you don’t even have to attribute the source if you don’t want to! You can use them how you wish.

Many of the photos are generic enough that you can find a use for them just about anywhere to spice up your communications.

Sometimes the fonts that come preloaded on your computer just won’t cut it. For those times, check out Thousands of fonts, all for free!

Use their free fonts to jazz up a flyer or email image to make it a bit more compelling. Pay attention though: unlike Unsplash, some of these fonts require an attribution to use.

Hubspot Icon Kit

Icons are a simple way to add some visual flair to data.

Let’s play a game: which example is more compelling and easier to read?

Example 1: This year, you helped feed 162 homeless families in our community! The $55,300 raised in our crowdfunding campaign was the biggest single gift ever received by the local shelter, and our volunteers built 13 new houses for needy families.

Example 2:

I rest my case.


Videos are a fantastic visual resource to use in your communications with supporters, and they’re growing in popularity every week. The problem is, they can be difficult and time consuming to make.

PowToon allows you to quickly and easily create fun, captivating cartoon videos with animations, voice over, sound effects, and music. They offer a free version of the tool that’s perfect for creating light-hearted videos to make donation asks or update supporters on your organization’s efforts.

Check out this example:


Pretty great right? PowToon gives you pre-drawn and animated graphics that you can drag and drop into your videos. You’re only limited by your imagination and creativity!


That’s right, little old PowerPoint. You’d be amazing at what a solid visual content creation tool PowerPoint is!

In fact, I use PowerPoint to create all my visuals for blog posts.

You’ll find most of the best goodies in the format picture menu.

Select an image in PowerPoint, then select the format picture menu. Here, you can easily crop an image, rotate it to give it a 3D effect, recolor it (great for those icons!), or my favorite, remove the background! If you’ve ever dealt with trying to find a copy of a logo that doesn’t have a white background, you know what a handy tool this can be.

It’s also great for adding text to images. Create a text box, place it on an image, type what you need (using some good fonts), then group the text box and image together. Right click, then select “Save as picture” and viola! You’ve got a great feature image to use for blog posts, in emails, or on fundraising pages.

Now get out there and start creating some visual stories!

Any visual tools you love that we didn't list here? Tell us about it in the comments!

Crowdfunding Guide

Topics: Fundraising, Storytelling,, Tools

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