“We have to move from persistent asking to consistent inspiration. And storytelling is brilliant for doing that.” - Ken Burnett, Advancing Philanthropy.
In our last blog we reflected on our name, Totem, and how it’s a testament to values. Further, we emphasized how the name itself speaks to the importance of storytelling. This week we’re delving deeper into the importance of storytelling and, specifically, its ability to generate concrete returns for nonprofits organizations. In a world that finds individuals increasingly overwhelmed with volleys for their attention, it’s more difficult than ever before to break through in a genuine way. But rather than lament at that fact, we think there’s an opportunity in the state of state of things to take a step back, and hone in on what truly separates your organization from all the rest. In fact, we believe in the power of storytelling so much that we’ve begun implementing a storytelling framework we’ve coined as AMPIC into the campaigns we help build with our nonprofit partners.
AMPIC is an acronym that stands for: Awareness; Mission; Programs; Impact; and Call to Action. This framework lends structure to a process that is designed to help organizations clarify their mission and convert affection into results. What follows is a letter-by-letter breakdown of AMPIC, elaborating on why we think this technique will aid in the telling of the story of you.
AWARENESS - Before you can even hope to persuade someone to be a champion for your cause, they have to know about you, and what you do, and why you do it. That’s why “awareness” is the first and most important element of the AMPIC process - you’ve got to get the word out to have a hope of broadening your constituent base. There are multitudinous approaches to increasing awareness, from inbound & outbound marketing, to drip campaigns, to gamification. What works for you should be a balance of best-practice and mission-context, which leads us into the next pillar . . .
MISSION - Mission is the arc of the story of you. Above all else, mission should be the most unique element of this process; it should be what separates you from all of the other causes a person might find themselves gravitating toward. Articulating what your mission is, and why it matters, moves your pipeline beyond mere awareness, and into a place where people can begin to latch on to your story above the rest in the fray. Mission is the first step in converting your audience into your champions.
PROGRAMS - If mission is aspirational (as it should be), then programs are what brings a marketing campaign back down to earth. Being able to spell out your programs in a compelling way lends credence to your campaign. In the monomyth that is the donor’s journey, programming represents the challenges you are seeking to overcome: Hercules’ Hydra in a manner of speaking. For example, one of the foremost challenges Totem seeks to solve is overcoming the resource constraint nonprofits face that can limit their ability to access nimble and cutting-edge software at a reasonable cost. Once a donor falls in love with your mission, they’ll want to know what programs you have in place that demonstrate you’ve moved beyond the idea phase and into action.
IMPACT - Impact in in AMPIC is the proof in the pudding. You could have an idea that solves all the world’s problems, and everyone could know about it, and you could even have the execution plan laid out to the most minute detail. But without impact metrics, who’s to say your organization is the right hero in the story over other contenders? What’s to show your gameplan can work? Impact is the part of the story that shows your worth. Who would Harry Potter be but for his tenure of besting basilisks and decimating dementors? Think of any hero you’re fond of. Real or imagined, they’ve all done something to earn your respect and adoration. Think about what you’ve done to do the same, and don’t be afraid to tell it.
CALL TO ACTION - Your “call to action”, obviously, is fundamentally what this is all about. Telling your story is all well and good, but to what end? Once you’ve captured your audience, you need to make them move. Don’t forget: you’re the hero in this story, and every hero fights for something. By the end of the AMPIC process your audience should know you; they should know what you’re fighting for; they should know your battle plan; and they should know of your successes. “Call to action” is your chance to engage your audience, and enable them to fight the good fight alongside you. A call to action can range from a donation ask, to an event invitation, to a volunteer opportunity. Whatever the direction you need your soldiers to move, the completion of the campaign necessarily involves sounding the alarm so that the followers of your story have a clear understanding of the steps they can take to become a part of it. Remember the quote from Ken Burnett we began this blog with. You can’t be afraid to ask, but there is a fine line between persistent asking and consistent inspiration. If you’re able to tell a story that grips, then inviting your constituents to be roleplayers in that story will feel a lot differently for them than being hit up for a donation does.
With that in mind, rather than asking you to sign up for our newsletter, we’re actually hoping you might consider adding us to yours (we’re firstname.lastname@example.org). We can’t wait to hear the story of you, and we hope it’s a saga of AMPIC proportions.