The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

The 4 parts of a great story

As I said yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting with Mark Rovner and Alia McKee at the NTC on Friday. Yesterday, I wrote about what Alia said about cultural cognition for nonprofit marketing folks and fundraisers. Today, a quick highlight of what Mark said about emotion and storytelling.

As Mark says:

There is no more sure fire way to engage someone emotionally than through dramatic stories. (Emphasis on the word dramatic.) You’re nodding yes, yes I know all this. We all know it, but then why do so many organizations tell crummy stories?

Here is what Mark says makes a good story:

1. A relatable protagonist. That means an individual, not a group or institution! The protagonist has to be facing something with which we can relate. What unites us all is are the trials and tribulations of being human.

2. Lots of conflict. Conflict is story oxygen. The more conflict, the more engaging the story.

3. A loathsome villain. Name names, or make clear what tough obstacle is in the way of our hero.

4. Telling details. If a story element can’t connect with one of the five senses, be suspicious of it.

For more, read the new eBook I wrote with Mark and Alia, including Mark’s chapter on storytelling.

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About This Blog

Liz Ragland
Manager, Content & Community

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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