As tomorrow’s election approaches, the news is full of last year’s election. Particularly, both presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and seasoned campaign manager and Democratic National Committee operative Donna Brazile have books out trying to explain what happened.
Looking back at elections can teach us something, but there’s an equally interesting kind of book to read: the kind that’s published before the election. We’re talking about the campaign biography.
Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope was a brilliant example. It told the story of who he was and made that the story of what we, the voters, wanted to see. It won him donations, volunteers, votes. It helped make him President.
Nonprofits can learn a lot from the campaign biography.
There’s an election going on, and your nonprofit organization is one of the candidates.
You’re competing for volunteer time. You’re competing for donor money. Everyone in your community can choose from a slate of good causes and “cast their vote”–for you, for a similar organization, or for a completely different cause that also appeals to them.
You need name recognition to win. No one will vote for you if they don’t know who you are. But how do you make sure people hear about you, and remember your name?
Tell stories that dramatize the problem you’re trying to solve. Tell stories that give people hope that there are solutions. Give them a chance to be the hero of the story by giving you their time or money.
When they choose between you and other organizations, make sure they know your name. Then you’ll have a chance to get their vote.
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