3. HI! I’M MARIA BRYAN ● Nonproﬁt Messaging Strategist
● 15+ years in communications and
marketing in the public sector
● Journalism BA and Master of Public
● Professionally Certiﬁed in Trauma &
● My core belief: Storytellers play an
incredible role in making the world a
healthier, safer, cleaner, and
happier place. Stories are meaningful.
4. ● Understanding Your Audience
● Developing Impactful Messaging
● Telling Stories That Stick
● Trauma-Informed Storytelling
what we’ll cover
10. CENTRAL MESSAGE
What sets you
The greater issue +
your unique and
Inspiring stories of
key message points
11. What sets
What makes our organization’s view and solution to
this problem diﬀerent from all the others in our
What are we most known for?
What qualiﬁes our organization to have empathy
and understanding for the people you're trying to
What greater impact do we want to have in our
community, industry, and the world?
What are our most daring goals?
13. Researchers have found that:
● A story can put your whole brain to
● Stories reinforce memory.
● Stories can aﬀect belief systems.
why your story matters
Sources: NYTimes: Your Brain on Fiction, NPR: How Stories Connect and Persuade Us
17. Nonprofit MESSAGING RETREAT
A messaging retreat for nonproﬁt
leaders to create clear and compelling
By the end, you’ll have a transformational
story-based messaging guide to lead all
your communications and messaging.
19. Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy
“Imagine how it would feel if the work you loved
compelled you to repeatedly go to your darkest place of
pain. Imagine ﬁghting back tears and anxiety attacks
every time you were asked to relive your greatest trauma.
Imagine your heart beating so fast you felt certain it
would jump out of your chest in the middle of an
important meeting. And imagine after that meeting being
so emotionally and physically exhausted that you want to
curl up and sleep for 20 years like Rip Van Winkle.”
- Damion Cooper, Project Pneuma Founder
21. THE STORY OWNER
● Slow down the story-gathering process.
● Tell stories of people who have closed the transformation
● Get program staﬀ involved who directly work with clients by
creating a story-gathering protocol and workﬂow.
● Make sure you have informed and enthusiastic consent.
● Give story owners ﬁnal approval before publication, allowing
them to clarify or remove sections of their story.
● Story owners should be allowed to withdraw their stories
22. “At Love146, I assume trauma in my audience.
And even if you’re not an organization working
with child sex traﬃcking — 1 in 3 women in your
audience experience sexual assault alone. That’s
only 1 kind of trauma. Across many dimensions:
- Marilyn Murray, Love146 Communications
23. THE STORY RECEIVER
● Most people have experienced trauma, and our audiences
likely care about your issue because of their lived
experiences and traumas.
● When telling stories, don't focus on lived pain that was
endured. Focus on transformation, awe, and hope.
● Allow for natural urgency in your asks, don’t create
false urgency or use shame and manipulation.
25. “I didn't expect this to be so emotionally grueling. I
have noticed that this trial speciﬁcally sticks with
me and bothers me in ways others haven't. I'm
going to carry that testimony with me for a long
time. That's what it means to bear witness to
something like this. You take a little bit of that
- Emily Saul, New York Post Litigation Reporter
Source: The Vow
26. THE WITNESS
● Take stock of how you feel after interviewing a beneﬁciary
and debrief with a trusted colleague or supervisor.
● Create self-care practices while telling other people's stories,
like meditating before and after interviews and taking breaks
to do unrelated and enjoyable tasks.
● Set boundaries and space in your week to protect your
emotional and mental health, like limiting interviews to one
or two days a week.
● Invest in talk therapy.
29. Focus on the rule of 1 when crafting your
marketing: write for 1 audience, relay 1 message,
tell 1 (trauma-informed!) story, and have 1
And remember that you play a powerful role in
making the world a healthier, safer, cleaner, and