Your Brain On Good Stories: Why Storytelling Matters For Nonprofits


Your brain loves a good story. Now, this might sound a little strange, but it’s true. There is a distinct chemical reaction that happens in one's brain when they're reading a compelling or interesting story.

According to a recent study published by the ROI of storytelling is a difficult one to measure, what’s important to understand is that it does work. Essentially, storytelling is something that not only helps nonprofits engage with their communities, but it also harbors the potential to help nonprofits fundraise, too.

So the age old question begs to be asked again. Does your nonprofit have a blog? If so, how often is it updated? Are you writing daily posts? Weekly? How about even monthly?

If you’re not updating it often, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage audiences, tell compelling stories, and get the oxytocin levels of potential donors, volunteers, employees and other constituents to spike, and inspire action.

The formula

According to the HBR article, there’s a formula for effective storytelling, too. And of course, it all starts with the brain.

The story, according to the study, must be able to sustain the attention of the reader(which in many cases can be the most difficult part!), and develop a narrative that entails suspense or tension. If suspense or tension is present, there is a good chance your readers will identify with the story and the characters in it. What’s more, by developing that suspense or tension, the reader will continue to experience those emotions well after the story is over.

Combining storytelling, and the human element with complex human emotions enables people to understand key points of a speaker better, and imbues them with the capacity to remember these points even weeks after initially hearing them.

What’s your story?

Every nonprofit has a story to tell. Almost every nonprofit’s mission is involved with helping a specific person, type of people, or demographic somewhere in the world. These people your nonprofit is working to provide help to are people with stories. Whether it’s how those people solved problems before your nonprofit intervened, or what happened after your nonprofit stepped in, your nonprofit has a compelling story to tell.

Another example story to tell is how your nonprofit got its start. Whether born out of necessity, or your passion for helping one person that spun into an entire organization, if your nonprofit is struggling to come up with a story to tell, how your nonprofit got started helping people is a great place to start.

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