book review: the non-profit narrative [how telling stories can change the world]

non-profit, narrative, story, book review, dan portnoy

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

August 13, 2012

non-profit, narrative, story, book review, dan portnoyI was on the long trip home from my first mission trip. The string of flights from Kampala to Nairobi to London to Miami to Tampa definitely provides one with ample opportunity to think about the experiences they’ve just had. I anticipate how everyone at home will want to hear one thing from me when I return… the stories. So I play the experiences over and over in my head, and I formulate a list of the best stories that’ll make people grasp (even a little bit) the kind of impact the trip has had on me.

In his book The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World, Dan Portnoy discusses how important stories like these can be to the success of an organization. The book was written to help non-profits learn how to apply storytelling principles to their day-to-day operations and communications for greatest impact. Portnoy illustrates how it’s these stories that ultimately drive the success of organizations, and enable them to continue to have even greater impact in the future.

One of my favorite features of the book is how Portnoy uses well-known stories to illustrate his point. By using examples from classic books and movies, he made it easy for the reader to connect with some of the great narratives of all time. In a way, it empowers the reader to look beyond his book and use experiences like watching a movies as opportunities to learn and grow. From now on, every time I watch Star Wars I’ll be thinking about character development with heroes like Han Solo and how I can model the same thing in the stories from my mission trips.

Portnoy knows what he’s talking about because he has the track record to back it up. His communications strategies have helped organizations more than double their charitable contributions year over year. He’s a highly sought after consultant and coach who knows how to drive results.

As someone who is active in the church, with non-profit parachurch organizations, and as a Christian blogger who hopes to change the world (even if it’s only one reader at a time), I’ve found this book to be an extremely valuable resource. After reading the book, I have a renewed vision for how I communicate the stories and experiences to others around me. Story is a powerful connector, and if we want to drive impact and results, then we must master the art of storytelling. I definitely recommend that anyone who is involved with non-profit and/or church ministry work get this book and use it as a model for all of your communications strategies… whether it’s sharing church pulpit, or implementing a web/social media strategy.

And they lived happily ever after…


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book review: the non-profit narrative [how telling stories can change the world]

by Dan King time to read: 2 min