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How to Tell your Not-for-Profit’s Story

Have a hero and a villain

In my website (http://eloquentenglish.com/2016/05/02/the-power-of-the-story/), I talk about what makes a good story. It’s all about having a hero we’re interested in, the challenges (villains) that this person must conquer and his/her transformation at the end. The best stories contain some type of universal message that we can all understand and believe in.

Think of your organisation as the hero, fighting a villain. The villain could be world hunger. The abuse of women. Factors that keep people unemployed. Your organisation wants to change that. Does your website and other material effectively show your ongoing battle with the forces of darkness? OK, that’s a little exaggerated—but you want to paint your organisation colours of vivid transformation and luminous optimism. People react strongly to that. They don’t react to a series of statistics and non-passionate language.

Make people care through personal stories

Which is more powerful to the average reader:

660,000 women are forced into marriage every year 


When she was 12, Sasha was sold in marriage to to a 55-year-old man.

The second one will get your attention quicker. Certainly, statistics are important, but make sure that your statistics merely support the powerful story you want to tell.


Business presenter guru Nancy Duarte shows how the most powerful business presentations have the same structure as the world’s most earth-changing speeches. Both these talks, Duarte states, describe a world as it is. The presenter then highlights a problem in that world (abuse of women) and how his solution will help eradicate that problem. According to Duarte, the best speeches continually contrast the “old” world versus the “new”, proposed world that is being presented in the speech.

Here is a website that does a brilliant girl of combing facts with the personal. The language is simple and powerful.


On the website’s front page you read:


“And we’re on a mission to educate 1 million of them.
And we want YOU to join us.

“It’s not okay with us that an 11 year old girl can be sold to a 55 year old man in the name of marriage. It’s not okay that a 12 year old girl is forced to sell herself in a brothel to earn money to survive. Stories like this that we hear each week are not inevitable. We CAN do something about it.

“Education changes everything.”

You get a statistic, certainly. But that statistic is stated vividly: 60 million girls are not in school. In doesn’t say “60 million girls are uneducated.” That’s boring. Onegirl make this statistic an actual activity–or the lack of an activity that can cause great harm.

They use the “it’s not OK” refrain beautifully to make it clear who the villain is: factors that allow girls to be abused.

Also, the organisation actually makes YOU—the potential donor—the hero. How smart is that? The website makes you believe that, with your donation, YOU can create a new, better world in which young women have a chance to contribute to this world.

So when you’re thinking about your organisation’s website, think passion. Heroism. changing the world. And make an unforgettable story about it.