t’s because they can be a very powerful narrative tool. Over the last couple of years, I have really come to appreciate the story telling power of that little yellow square. In fact, in my most recent project, I have begun to use them as a way to shorten what are otherwise lengthy passages of text.
One of the main challenges is this: The story most likely to move donors is about a not-yet-solved problem – someone facing a need or challenge and waiting for someone to help them overcome it.
But: almost all the time, the story you have is about someone who has already solved their problem. By the time you get in touch and learn their story, they’ve moved on. Things are good. You have a success story, not a need story.
That success story is important. It’s exactly what you want in your donor newsletter or donor care letter.
It’s not the right story for asking donors to give. A success story inadvertently says, “Everything is a-okay! Your donation is not needed here!”
But what are you to do? You have a story. A success story. Would it be better to forget the story and go back to flinging statistics at your donors?
Nope. There’s a way to make your success story work in your fundraising. And I’m going to show you how one smart fundraising professional did it.
The sense-making definition of design fiction is to consider the ways that material artifacts — things considered, designed, made, produced in the material sense of things — can structure and arrange our understanding and ability to make sense of sometimes vague, nebulous notions of the future.
In stories told with deficit framing, the people we meet are already in a distressed or perilous
state. They are starving, homeless, addicted to drugs, or a victim of abuse. Stories told this
way may evoke emotion, but that tends to be pity instead of empathy. The people who are
experiencing hardship appear as objects at the mercy of events and without agency to
change things. This also strengthens a savior-style narrative that positions the organization
as the only thing (along with your dollars, of course) that can fix these broken people.
Fortunately, this ethical trap in storytelling can be avoided
through a practice called “asset-framing.” Trabian Shorters, a
leading expert and advocate for asset-framing, calls it “a
narrative model that defines people by their assets and
aspirations before noting the challenges and deficits.” This
means your story introduces the protagonist (i.e. who the story is
about) as a person with accomplishments, hopes and values
before we get to the challenges that ultimately led them to your
Taking your offering to market requires a clear message that resonates with the audience. Your message is meaningful or meaningless: either your message aligns with the dominant cultural narrative and is accepted relatively easy, or your message must alter the cultural narrative before it gains widespread acceptance.
Progressive ideas shift the dominant narrative, often at great cost to the messenger. Martin Luther King, like Moses, did not live to enter into the Promised Land.
What makes a message convincing?
What is a narrative? What makes it dominant?
How does a message gain cultural acceptance?
How does one shift or disrupt a cultural narrative?
We will attempt to answer these questions by drawing on a number of diverse ideas and integrating them into a practical model.
The UN Refugee Agency’s Project Unsung is a speculative storytelling project that brings together creative collaborators from around the world to help reimagine the humanitarian sector and promote narrative change and foresight in our work.
The worlds produced through mediums such as non-fiction essays, science fiction, poetry, art and illustration, create visions for how we might radically reimagine our work with communities, our organizations, and our relationships to each other and the planet.
The collection is framed across three overarching issues that we believe to be critical for building just futures:
Nature (restoring and repairing the world by confronting climate change and ecological loss);
Identity (fostering belonging, connection, and kinship);
Power (reimaging and reconfiguring power dynamics and social transformation through decolonizing, localizing, and building solidarity across difference).
The story of humanitarian innovation needs a new chapter. Join us in imagining better worlds.
Tested is an award-winning comic book that features diverse characters affected by a broad range of health conditions and related social issues. With a touch of heart and humor, 'Tested' depicts a diverse cast of characters affected by stigma, HIV, STIs, substance use, LGBTQ+ issues, and much more.
more of the same but different
2:59 Sequels, Remakes and Adaptations
8:50 What We Want
10:00 The Point
11:30 Into the Spider-Verse
From 10 to 25 is a collaborative storytelling game about the period of life we call adolescence. Players take on the role of a young person making their way through adolescence. Players combine the experiences life has dealt them with relationships and resources available in their community to tell a story about growing up.
The game builds understanding of what adolescence is and what young people need to thrive.
Narrative capture is when an industry, company, or group changes the common narrative for their benefit, even if that just means changing the status quo. What are our baseline expectations? What is acceptable behavior? What is the way we measure fairness? What should we complain about?
As expected, narrative capture is different. Here are some of its forms.
Then our hero enters, and decides to coordinate and plan a persuasion campaign to get the rule changed. Here’s how I think this went down.
He in advance arranges for various sources to give him a signal boost when the time comes, in various ways.
He designs the message for a format that will have maximum reach and be maximally persuasive.
This takes the form of an easy to tell physical story, that he pretends to have only discovered now.
Since all actual public discourse now takes place on Twitter, it takes the form of a Twitter thread, which I will reproduce here in full.
“We’re basically creating an MCU-style universe of characters on TikTok,” says Benjamin. “Some succeed, some fail — it’s the TV pilot season model where we only invest in those that get traction and audiences love.”
One of the most effective approaches I have learned is called SCIPAB, a technique developed by Steve Mandel and now spread by the company he founded, Mandel Communications. I was lucky enough to be trained in SCIPAB by Mandel Communications as part of a more general “presentation skills“ training. I don’t want to steal their thunder (or their business!), but I do want to share some of the insights that I carry with me and use regularly.
SCIPAB is an acronym, which stands for the phases of a story:
We argue that the reason so little progress has been made against obesity and type 2 diabetes is because the field has been laboring, quite literally, in the sense intended by philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, under the wrong paradigm.
This energy-in-energy-out conception of weight regulation, we argue, is fatally, tragically flawed: Obesity is not an energy balance disorder, but a hormonal or constitutional disorder, a dysregulation of fat storage and metabolism, a disorder of fuel-partitioning. Because these hormonal responses are dominated by the insulin signaling system, which in turn responds primarily (although not entirely) to the carbohydrate content of the diet, this thinking is now known as the carbohydrate-insulin model.
Its implications are simple and profound: People don’t get fat because they eat too much, consuming more calories than they expend, but because the carbohydrates in their diets — both the quantity of carbohydrates and their quality — establish a hormonal milieu that fosters the accumulation of excess fat.
Design fiction is one of the tools the students learn to prototype the future of business. Designers often use this strategy to help stakeholders envision divergent scenarios for their organization in the context of uncertainty.
We asked the students to consider the forces at play in today’s fast-changing society, such as artificial intelligence and decentralized governance models, and write a story about the future. Zooming out of this aspirational story, they mapped out what would have to be true from a technological and business standpoint to bring positive aspects of that future to fruition, while calling attention to factors or decisions that could negatively impact our world years from now. At its core, design fiction is a strategic exercise that connects the dots between vision and execution, transitioning teams from imagining the future to taking action.