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The sustainable nonprofit: What is a 'winning' narrative?

June 27, 2022

Hand_holding_megaphone_pexels-sora-shimazaki-5935743In the social issue space, new narratives pop up all the time as movements, companies, and organizations attempt to grab and keep the public’s attention. How do you know if (and when) the narrative you’ve created for the social issue you’ve chosen to address is the “winning” one?

While narrative is often conflated with hot-button topics and culture wars, no one “wins” by drowning others out. You win only when the public adopts your narrative as the cultural norm for a given issue—and changes their behaviors to reflect that shift....

Regardless of the social issue they’re working to address, today’s leaders must understand that narrative adoption is not a rational undertaking. Whenever the opposing side on an issue raises a challenge, we often see narratives created to change public opinion but in reality do nothing more than exploit facts or events—taking one fact and creating false context to win public sentiment. And though this approach isn’t new, many organizations and movements still seem taken aback when it happens. Again, this is illustrated in Moyer’s stages of movement development.

Below is a guide to knowing whether your narrative has inspired the public to change viewpoints. We look at it in three stages: Narrative Adoption, Narrative Attitude Shifting, and Narrative Behavior Inducing....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki via pixels)

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