Key Lesson People & Goals

When starting your Narrative Framework or story, your focus should be on the people you aim to ultimately serve. A compelling narrative often has people at its heart. The next piece we emphasize in this lesson is your organizational goals which will help improve the lives of the people it serves.

In this lesson, you will describe all the people involved in your cause ranging from beneficiaries to supporters and your organizational goals in depth.

People you Serve

Your organization cares about improving people’s lives. You may think of them as beneficiaries, end users, clients, customers or just the people you serve. Regardless, it’s vital that you describe them in strategic ways. Your audience is more likely to support your cause if they empathize with and respect the people who benefit from your work. To build this empathy, avoid dry demographic descriptions and think of personal attributes that describe the people you serve. For example, you could translate “low-income people” to “hardworking families.” Picture the people who benefit from the work you do and write down qualities that come to mind when you think about these people.

Your beneficiary is not always a community of people. For example, an organization like World Wildlife Federation serves animals and Greenpeace serves the environment.

Example: A high school diploma is an important step in preparing a young person to live an independent, secure and happy life and to contribute to America's economic competitiveness as part of an educated, innovative workforce. But one-quarter of our high school students drop out of school without getting a diploma — more than 1 million every year.

Tip: List specific groups that are directly affected by the issue or care about the cause, instead of broad categories like “the general public.” Your audiences are more likely to understand and care about your cause if they can relate to the specific groups in your story or understand how the issue directly impacts their own lives.

People you work with

Your audience also needs to understand the roles of your staff and partners if they’re going to be motivated to support them. Often times, the important work these people do is obscured or forgotten in storytelling. Describing the various people who are necessary to make the cause successful can create a sense of momentum towards accomplishing a goal, and motivate more support for your organization.

Tip: When describing the work of staff and partners, try to include tangible ways in which their work benefits the people you serve. This will demonstrate to your audience why their role is important, and it will ensure that your narrative keeps people in the picture.

3. Who is helping to overcome the problem and advance the solution?

Describe up to six distinct groups

Tip: Your stories don’t need to be for everyone—they are for people who would be interested in your cause and have something to contribute to your success.

4. What is the most important way these supporters can help your organization advance your cause?

Select one

5. Which of these best describes the geographic makeup of your supporters?

Select one


Helping the people you serve to reach their goals requires another group of people—your supporters. These supporters may be staff, volunteers, donors or partner organizations. These people can also play an important role in the stories you tell. They are people who want to see themselves in your work, so be sure to paint a clear picture of who can help and how.

In this section, you’ll describe the people who will play a role in advancing your cause.

Example: America's Promise is a national partnership that brings together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, communities, educators and ordinary citizens behind the idea of making the promise of America accessible to all young people.

Organizational Goals: What does your organization want to achieve?

Your organization has goals that it thinks will help improve the lives of the people it serves. Describe the goals and how they relate to the well-being of these people. Try to stay “aspirational”: How will your work advance the hopes and values of the people you serve? Consider what they want for their own lives, and how the world will be different for them if your organization’s work was successfully accomplished.

Example: The work is powered by the belief that all children are capable of learning and thriving, and that every individual, institution and sector shares the responsibility to help young people succeed.

Tip: Thinking visually can help evoke more vivid, aspirational language. If you’re struggling to describe your goal, try a simple visual exercise: Draw the world as it would be for the people you serve if your organization’s work was successfully accomplished. What does it look like? How is it different from the world as it exists for them now?

You're almost there.

Describing the people you serve and your organization's goals are the first steps in building your Narrative Framework and storytelling strategy.

Return to top

Well done!

You're on your way to creating your Narrative Framework. Now, you could consider defining the problems your beneficiaries are facing, the solutions you can offer and your call to action to motivate your audiences to help you achieve your goal.

Next up: Problem, Solutions and CTA

Your Narrative Framework


People you serve:

Your supporters:

The most important way this group can help you advance your cause:

The geographic makeup of your supporters:

Long-Term Goals



Call to Action

Further reading, based on your answers.

The 40/60 Content Rule: Less Time Writing, More Time Sharing 40% of your time should be spent creating content, while the remaining 60% should be spent promoting content.
  • 6 Saved

Small Garth Moore

Mining the Mindset of a Publisher We’re all publishers now, whether we know it or not.
  • 1 Comment
  • 4 Saved

Small Lara Setrakian

Best of Storytelling 2016 2016 didn’t just bring a rollercoaster of emotional events—it brought a series of stories that tugged at different heartstrings.

Small Eliana Reyes

Greenpeace Mobilisation Lab's Campaign to Free the Arctic 30 Infusing storytelling into advocacy campaigns.
  • 4 Saved

Small Mob Lab Team

Use Stories to Build Communities That Can Be Harnessed to Act Technology provides platforms and tools but now, more than ever, social movements—online and offline—are built on the essence of our humanity.
  • 1 Comment
  • 1 Saved

Small Maria Ressa

Your CEO as Master Storyteller Three types of stories leaders need to tell.
  • 1 Comment
  • 6 Saved

Small Justina Chen

5 Stories Nonprofits Should Be Telling on Social Media Five stories that your nonprofit should be telling everywhere you do fundraising and marketing – including social media.
  • 1 Comment
  • 13 Saved

Small Julia Claire Campbell

Repurposing Content: What’s Old is New Again Get extra mileage from your best stories.
  • 6 Saved

Small Jereme Bivins

A Single Story Does Not Change the World Tell your audience stories that matter the most to them.
  • 3 Saved

Small Alison Byrne Fields