How do you know if your nonprofit story is any good?

Are you stuck with writing a story right now?

How can you make it better?

Well, first of all,

Check out Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

Does your story have all three of these things?

If not, rewrite it.

Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon

Mazarine with Goal, Motivation, Conflict

So, what’s a principle of Goal?

A goal is what your character wants. There’s an external goal- shelter for the night- and an internal goal- shelter long term. And here’s a clue. The goal is not always achieved in your nonprofit story. But it is important that it’s believable for your reader.

What’s a principle of Motivation?

Motivation is the why of your nonprofit story. It can be internal and it can be external as well.

This is the answer to- because. What does she want? Shelter for the night. Why? Because she’s escaping from her abuser.

And this is where it gets tricky. Keep it simple, strong and focused. Her external motivation is escape.

Her internal motivation is to find a place where she can be safe. When you think about motivation, and even complex motivations in a nonprofit story, you may ask, Why would someone willingly stay homeless? Why would a woman stay with her abuser? Why would we try to save endemic bird habitat?

What’s a principle of Conflict?

Conflict is bad things happening to good people, but it’s also bad things happening to bad people.

Conflict is friction, tension and opposition. What personifies the conflict in your nonprofit story? Is it something abstract like war? Something more grounded, like Monsanto? Or something even more personal, like a parent abusing their child?

If your characters are never in danger, never struggle, never face hardship, your appeal/annual report/newsletter is going to be boring.

Of course, we don’t want to make our communications “negative” but honestly the way to get people to keep reading is to create conflict.

Cowards and courage make for great conflict.

Your character may have one goal he admits to the world, and another secret emotional goal that he is not aware of. A character’s journey can be self discovery. He may struggle against others and within himself.

According to Debra Dixon, you must “lay a foundation for conflict, create believable goals, motivate the characters, and nurture conflict to the inevitable crisis or climax.”

Have you ever read an annual report, enewsletter or appeal that did this?

Me neither. But imagine how much more interesting it would be if you COULD do this.

How can all these help you write that next e-newsletter?

Start in the middle of the story. Don’t say, “One day, a program assistant told me this story.” Instead, say,

“George rubbed his face wearily. He looked into the case manager’s eyes. “Why do I want to be here? I’m tired of sleeping at the homeless shelter. I want a real home.”

Boom. Goal. Motivation. Conflict. In three sentences.

Can you give me the goal, motivation and conflict of your nonprofit story in the comments?

Want 43+ more tips on how to write successful appeal letters? Just go here!