“Any brand of toothpaste is peddled with far more sophistication than the life-saving work of aid groups,” Nicholas Kristof once wrote. Nonprofits and social enterprises, unsurprisingly, struggle to compete with brands that collectively spend billions on marketing. But some have more success. Charity: Water, a nonprofit that has raised more than $260 million for clean drinking water in developing countries since it launched in 2006, uses storytelling to convince its donors to give.
At the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Tyler Riewer, brand content lead for Charity: Water–who previously spent eight years working in traditional advertising–shared what he’s learned about storytelling, and why it matters. “It’s one of the things that the nonprofit community is desperately lacking,” Riewer told the crowd. He shared five key lessons.