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Allyson Kapin 6 min read

How to Win the Story Wars

Be honest, does your nonprofit spend time and resources on crafting a good story to share with your supporters? If you are shaking your head no, you are not alone. Most nonprofits spend their time trying to persuade people with facts. While arming your supporters with important facts is certainly useful, you also must share powerful stories that inspire them to get even more involved in your movement and cause.  

So what goes into telling a good story? Check out these great tips and this insightful white paper from Jonah Sachs, author of Winning The Story Wars, and cofounder of Free Range Studios who joined us for this Care2 webinar along with Justin Perkins, Director of Nonprofit Services at Care2.

How to Win the Story Wars

One of the most important elements you need to understand to win the story wars is the “deadly sins.”

What are the Deadly Sins?

Vanity – The audience should be the heroes of our story not us as brands.

Insincerity –  Our supporters are so sophisticated today. Not only are they engaging with us in great conversations across social media channels, they are also our critics, so being sincere is critical. Sachs highlighted the example of the Fiji Green marketing campaign, where consumers quickly learned that Fuji’s practices weren’t "green" at all. Sachs said that this cost the Fuji brand millions of dollars.

Authority –  Like we mentioned earlier, nonprofits love to share facts. This helps them establish authority. But facts can always be countered with the opposition’s “facts.” But if you focus on telling more stories, it becomes a lot more challenging for the opposition to counter these powerful stories.

The Structure of a Story

You want people to listen and become part of your stories. You don't want them to "consume it."

Define the moral of a story. What do you stand for that you can teach your audience and that will resonate with them. Every communication you put out should be illustrative of that moral of your story and of your brand.

The values of a story are important too. People want to know what are the values of the brand that they are going to become involved with. Nonprofits should build stories around their shared values and finding characters that people can identify with. This is important to connect with your audiences.

Who is the protagonist?

People like to hear stories of unlikely heroes healing the world. For example, is your Executive Director a rebel providing innovative solutions to change the world?

Determine what is your gift to the world. For example, the company Toms Shoes built their socially conscious brand around the idea that with every pair you purchase, they will donate another pair of shoes to a child in need. Who's the unlikely heroes here? You the consumer and Tom's shoes.

Click here to listen to the webinar, "Winning the Story Wars"

Read Jonah's answers to your webinar Q&A 

Download this free white paper on Winning the Story Wars.

You can also view the slides below.


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.