Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | “I survived a mass shooting. Now, I’m fighting back.”

March 13, 2017


In this instalment of Power of Storytelling, I don’t only want you to notice the story (which in itself you simply can’t not notice), but how Everytown for Gun Safety deftly repurposed it for a second email communication.

The story, or should I say, Steve Frappier’s story, aside from being the type of story you can’t ignore, is the kind of narrative that carries resonating power and sticks with you long after you’ve read the last word. I call it a “colossal emotional punch,” and yes, I’m considering getting that one trademarked. Steve’s story is one that demands to be told, especially for Everytown, a nonprofit that, since 2014, has passionately advocated for gun control and against gun violence.

The narrative is a first-person account, and that aspect alone lends it a very specific layer of power: Steve is not only communicating directly with supporters — he’s pleading with them to join the fight against Congress, who is currently considering a dangerous NRA policy. To those who support gun safety, it’s unthinkable. To someone like Steve, who nearly fell victim to a mentally ill mass shooter, it’s probably akin to a nightmare.

Putting a face to the cause never hurts and for Everytown’s seemingly never-ending battle, it can only help. In Steve, we get a face, a name, and the identity of a real person. The image of the laptop computer that ultimately saved his life, ripped by a bullet, is jarring.

Notice how the links are integrated into the story and offer two different pathways for making an impact. The first link enables the reader to provide a contribution to Everytown’s mission and implements an easy, accessible form. The second link allows supporters to send postcards to their senators and representatives, imploring them, in the face of dangerous NRA activity, to not disable our gun laws.

Look, then, at how just a couple of days later, Everytown repurposed and reinforced his narrative in a second email, highlighting the story and tying it directly to their mission and current work in just a few sentences. It’s a smart move. After a short jump, Steve’s story begins, and unsurprisingly, it generates just as much impact as before.

Lastly, there’s Facebook integration involved, and Everytown has highlighted Steve’s story on their page, providing additional opportunities for it to reach their supporters. Here, not only may they encounter Steve’s story on their own, but they can also go on to share it to their own individual Facebook pages, dispersing it among their friends and family. Plus, in addition to the wider reach lies the possibility that new readers will transform into new supporters.

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