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Can a Non-Profit use StoryBrand?

November 16, 20233 min read

Defining what matters to your ideal donor gives you direction for your marketing messages. Speak to them in a way they want to hear it. - Sarah George

Marketing for non-profits can be tough. You're often running on a shoe-string budget and promoting so many programs and events that your own board can hardly keep up. The hardest thing is that you truly are making the world better and want the beneficiaries of your organization to know there's help. It takes a strategic approach.

As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, I leverage the powerful StoryBrand framework to bring clarity to non-profit messaging. This framework, rooted in timeless storytelling principles, aims to captivate and mobilize audiences effectively. For non-profits, honing in on two crucial StoryBrand components — the character and the problem— is key.

Sidenote: This is a little tricky because a non-profit would actually have two audiences to speak to. 1) the beneficiary who receives goods/services and 2) the donor who invests in goods/services. For the purpose of this article, we're sticking with the donor as the audience.

The Character is Your Donor

I bet your first thought is that the problem is whatever your mission attempts to resolve (ending hunger, providing clean water to third-world countries, or making sure the next generation is exposed to arts and culture). Not when it comes to your donors as the main character. In any story, there is a main character called "the hero" who the story focuses on. The question we ask is, "will the hero get what they want?"

The first step is to define what your hero, or ideal donor, wants in regards to your mission. By understanding their desires, motivations, and the impact they seek, you can tailor your messages to resonate with ideal supporters. Consider their motive to be a part of your mission: Is it for legacy; were they affected by what you're trying to resolve; or some other personal impact?

Defining what matters to your ideal donor gives you direction for your marketing messages. Speak to them in a way they want to hear it. The Alzheimer's Association does a good job of this speaking specifically to people whose loved ones are affected by dementia. Character is your donor; the hero in the narrative.

So... What's the Problem

Once you know what your hero wants to achieve, understand what stands in their way of achieving it. Most typically for non-profit donors is that they don't know how or where to start to make a difference, they can't do it alone, or there is too much red-tape to fight through. Enter the trusted non-profit organization to guide them. Here is an example to demonstrate ways to think of the problem:

1) The Villain - Is there a root cause to the problem that can be personified?

Evil hunger-pains rumbling a child's stomach; disrupting his ability to focus in school.

2) External - What is the problem others can see your donors deal with?

The teacher starts to bring in snacks, but it gets expensive and fast.

3) Internal - How do your donors feel because of this villain?

Hopeless, disheartened, overwhelmed

4) Philosophical - Why is it "just not right" for your donors to bear this burden?

Helping others shouldn't be so hard and shouldn't be one person's responsibility.

With Giving Tuesday coming up, be sure to share your message in a way that positions your donor as the hero. Want help writing your whole story framework? Let's connect! Schedule your discovery call. I offer a special price Branding and Messaging Strategy for non-profit organizations.

Sarah George

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