Who is the hero of your nonprofit organization’s story?


When we work with nonprofit leaders to create a brand strategy, there is so much that is open-ended about this creative process. We usually have multiple voices and perspectives from each organization who collaborate to weigh in on some subjective questions:

  • What are our values?
  • How do we envision an ideal world?
  • Why does our organization exist?

Within a single organization, we’ve seen these questions answered six different ways by six different people — and we love the diversity of responses. But there’s one question that we believe really does have a “right answer.” That is, Who is the hero of your organization’s story?

Character work might seem foreign to a nonprofit, but your organization has a story, and you need to make sure the right people are spotlighted at the center of that story and portrayed with dignity and respect. No matter the plot, the mentors, or the obstacles in this narrative, the main character should always be the people your organization serves.

These folks are the heroes of their own stories, so be sure the narrative reflects their truth. Avoid language that suggests people are dependent on your organization. That kind of framing is demoralizing, and audiences will see that.

Keeping the right people front and center ensures that your organization stays grounded in its mission to make a meaningful impact in their lives.

Todd Hiestand

Todd has over 20 years of experience as a leader in the nonprofit sector. He has served in a wide variety of roles, guiding digital marketing, technology, fundraising, eCommerce, and communications strategies. His expertise in developing systems and processes has helped launch organizations and sustain growth over time.