How to Tell a Compelling Story

“Messages delivered as stories can be up to 22X more memorable than just facts.”

Storytelling is a major part of your brand, but it can be intimidating to craft a story that will captivate attention and inspire action.

There is one simple formula you can use to focus your storytelling and motivate customers. It may seem simple, but this is a formula proven by nonprofits around the world, and we guarantee it will work for your organization, too. 

When you put this story formula into practice, you’ll develop a strong brand story that will boost engagement and deliver concrete results. This story structure helps people to digest a complicated issue by giving them a simple and moving story to follow.

Using this formula, we shift from big, daunting numbers to a local story to personal action. With each step of the formula, the lens focuses a little tighter, and the story becomes even clearer. And the quicker people understand, the more likely they are to support your organization and share your compelling story with others. 

Statistic + Story + Action = Results

First, define the results you want to achieve by telling this story. Do you want someone to donate to your organization? Increase website visits? Share your social media post? The goal will determine the path you take for your story.

Statistic — Once you have a defined goal, start with a general statistic related to your cause. Does your organization exist to end human trafficking? Then share a statistic about human trafficking as it exists today. This statistic should directly align with your organization’s purpose and touch on a larger problem in the world that your nonprofit is fighting to improve. Once you’ve chosen a statistic, be sure to qualify it, and cite the source.

Story — Next, we need to tie that statistic to a personal, life-changing story. This should be an authentic story from someone who has been directly affected by your organization. If you run a pet adoption center, share a story of how someone’s life improved by adopting a pet. If you’re having trouble tracking down a unique story, sending a quick, 2-3 question survey to your email list is a great way to unearth testimonials. However, always get approval from the people involved before sharing a personal story publicly!

Action — Lastly, we need to give the audience a direct call-to-action. A call-to-action is a statement designed to trigger an immediate response. The call-to-action should seem like a natural next step following the shared story. Your tribe will respond best if you are clear and concise with your request. If you want donations, ask them to “donate now!” If you want people to visit your website, ask them to visit, and provide the link. If you want them to share your post, then ask them to share or tag their friends. Be bold, and make your request with confidence!

Once you’ve written the story, share it with your community!

Post it on your social media accounts, share it at your next board meeting, and place it on your website. If you continue structuring your brand narratives in this way, you will captivate your audience and inspire action for years to come.