Storytelling for Nonprofits

Written by Juliana Torres-Mason

An endless trove of story ideas awaits

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There’s nothing worse than a blank page.  




Terribly white.  


The thin black cursor blinking in silent mockery:  


You. Have. No. Words.  


(My cursor smacks a nasty name to the end of its jeer. Yours is probably nicer.) 


Fear not, fellow storyteller!  


I have your cure for Writer's Bl… ahem …. to the Curse-That-Must-Not-Be-Named! 


At the end of this email is a list of ideas.  


Ideas that will reel in story after story as you cast them in every direction of your organization.  


Go ahead: I give you permission to skip the impending story and scroll down to the link! 


You see… while I’m quite good at spawning story ideas now… that wasn’t always the case.  


In my first week as a feature writer for my university newspaper, I was certain I had the BEST story idea.   


I strode proudly down the steps of the basement newsroom (all the best newsrooms are in the basement, by the way). I plopped in a chair that wasn't quite inside the cramped office of the features editor.  


I was pumped to launch my newspaper career with a fascinating story that (definitely!) no one had ever considered. 


I can only shake my head at that poor, eager sophomore. I had seized upon writing a backstory about the tallest building on campus. The building that was the focus of campus pride, whose bells heralded the beginning of every class.  


The most obvious building/story on campus.  


The editor was unimpressed.  


“Yeah. We did that last semester,” he said, his detached introversion grating against my memory from the newsroom staff party that weekend.  


“What else you got?” 




Not true. I had flutters of panic and a growing suspicion that my career wasn't headed for the skyrocketing success of Christiane Amanpour or… Lois Lane.  


Since then, I've learned that finding GOOD stories requires curiosity, empathetic listening, and asking enough questions to unearth something not-obvious.  


We'll cover those topics in time. For now, I'll skip you ahead and give you the giant list of story ideas I promised.  


The ideas are designed to push you down the path to an interesting story. You'll get the best results if you apply specific details to each question.  


For example, if you pick: How one volunteer helped one person... 



  • Which volunteer stood out this week? 

  • What happened that made the interaction unique? 

  • What kind of impact did their influence have on the single person? 

  • How did the person they helped show their appreciation for the effort? Can you ask them about their experience and hear it from their perspective? 



Email me if you want some free help tailoring the ideas to your organization.  


And save this email, because I'll keep adding to the list.  

Happy story fishing!  

Juliana Torres-Mason  


 ~ The Nonprofit Storyteller ~   

(and perpetuator of the surprising fish motif) 

P.S. If you want to REALLY skip ahead and have my agency tell your organization’s stories, let's make it happen