Storytelling for non-profits

“Storytelling is telling a story with emotion.”

As a non-profit organisation, you really need your story to stand out like no other. You can do this through storytelling. What steps can you take to tell a powerful story?

As a non-profit organisation, you need to excel in storytelling. During the Mindwize storytelling webinar in March 2021 Harry Slagman said: “Storytelling is telling a story with emotion.” How do you bring emotion into your story and how do you find the right story? One of the most important questions that will help you with this is: why are you committed to your charity?

By following these steps, you can build your own powerful story:

4 steps for a compelling story:

1. Why are you committed to your charity?

Your personal story is essential in creating a powerful story. Describe what it is that makes you committed to your organisation. Short stories usually have the greatest impact. Donors want to donate something to you because you deserve it, they are taken by your story. Do you also put heart and soul into this good cause? Then you deserve my support.

2. What is the story behind your organisation?

Describe the founder of your organisation, what values and norms does/did this person have? Which stories highlight this? This is where legitimacy and trustworthiness come to the fore. Potential donors should see that your organisation is trustworthy, otherwise they will hesitate whether to donate or not.

3. Why do people need help?

Then tell short stories about people or animals who are helped by your organisation. Why do they need help? What have they been through? Don’t reveal the end of the story here. Refer to a call-to-action. A message to help the main character in this short story. Provide a clear situation that the donor can contribute to.

4. Are there success stories?

Also share some stories that have ended well. Explain in real terms how the work of your organisation helps people (or animals). After these success stories, ask a potential donor if they would like to contribute to the important work your organisation is doing.

But how do you find the right story?

During the 4 steps above you will have already noticed that emotion is key. How do you ensure that you make an emotional connection?

Make sure you know who your audience is. What do they care about? How do they make decisions? What do they already know? This lets you package your message in a way that suits the listener. This also depends on the “colour” of your audience based on DISC profiles. For example, some people prefer short and concise information. You have to tell your story powerfully to them. These are people in the red quadrant of the DISC profiles. Furnish your story with lots of extras and feeling for readers in the yellow quadrant.

How do you prepare your story?

1. Set the scene

Your story starts at a particular time, place, weather and even an atmosphere. But also with the relationship and the circumstances. Here you make sure that your donor believes you. The purpose of this step is to provide a framework with enough information so that people know where the story begins. Describe how the situation was.

2. Introduce characters

Next, main characters are not only important but indispensable. Your stories need to be about people. Of course your story may be about animals, but make sure that these animals share human characteristics. This enables readers to identify with others. They will only want to donate if the situation is recognisable.

3. Begin the journey

Place the main character in the spotlight here. What is the dream, wish or ambition of your protagonist? Tell us about their journey as briefly as possible.

4. Encounter the obstacle

The next step in your story describes what happened to your main character. What setback was there? How was their health? Was there a problem? Indicate why the protagonist could no longer fulfil their wish or ambition because of the problem that arose.

5. Overcome the obstacle

Then you can describe what the main character did to be able to pursue their ambition. How did this go, how did the main character feel about it? Think in small steps because the magic is in the details. Describe what your organisation has done to help this person, to make their dreams come true.

6. Resolve the story

Here you tell how the story ends. A good story has no loose ends. What is the situation now? Go through your story and make sure all potential questions from your audience are answered.

7. Make the point

What is the point you want to make with your story? What are you trying to say? Show why your organisation is taking action.

8. End your story with a question

After this powerful story concerning your non-profit organisation, you have to ask the give question. Communication is important here. Listen to your potential donor, why would they like to or not like to donate?

As a non-profit organisation, you can use the above structure to tell a powerful story. A personal story is the way to appeal to potential donors.


Do you want to know more about Storytelling for non-profits? Please contact our Creative Strategist, Bas van Breemen via

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