Using Emotion in Storytelling

Rob Wu
Rob Wu

Let’s run through an example of compelling storytelling. Say your organization is focused on helping keep at-risk youths out of gangs.

Which is more compelling?

“We help keep at-risk kids out of gangs.”

Or –

“Jason just started his first semester at the University of Alabama on a full scholarship.

If you’d known Jason five years ago, you never would have believed this would happen.  Jason’s mom, a single parent, had to work two jobs, his brother is in jail, and all signs pointed to the same future for Jason.

Jason got involved with our after-school program and his life began to change. He learned to respect himself, stopped skipping school and spent less time on the streets.

“I never thought I could go to college” said Jason, “I doubted I’d even finish high school. DREAM helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible.”

At DREAM, our mission is to help at-risk youths stay out of gangs and learn skills that will help them achieve their full potential.”

The second example provides not only more detail, but an emotional connection to something human.

A compelling template

For your nonprofit, an easy template to share your stories is:

1. What’s the current situation?
2. Here’s why help was needed
3. What would have happened if they hadn’t received any help
4. How the person was helped
5. What the result was

This format will help you reach donors in a deep and emotional way. The more emotional and connection they feel, then the more likely they are support you in the long-run.

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