You are NOT the Hero!

I recently had the privilege of connecting with Donald Miller, best known for being the author of Blue Like Jazz, and most recently, the mastermind behind the StoryBrand framework. This framework highlights the roles of hero, villain, victim, and guide in every narrative. An opportunity for me to attend an event at his house in Nashville and engage in private discussions led me to a significant realization about how ministries perceive their relationships with supporters.


Donors are the Heroes: Engaging with donors who support our work requires recognizing them as the true heroes of our story. Moved by compassion and conviction, these individuals step forward to make a difference, wielding their generosity like champions of a grand narrative. This perspective is not merely theoretical but a practical reality that should redefine how we communicate with and engage our supporters. By acknowledging the donors' pivotal role, ministries can forge deeper, more meaningful relationships. This approach recognizes their significant contributions and honors their desire for tangible outcomes from their generosity. Indeed, without our generous partners, we could not fulfill our God-given mission!

Donors Need to See the Impact of Their Gifts: My conversation with Donald Miller underscored the importance of clearly communicating the impact of each donation. By doing so, we honor the donors' role in our story and strengthen their commitment to our cause. This storytelling method aligns with our teaching that "people give when they are involved and have a sense of ownership." Engagement and emotional connection are critical for inspiring donors to make significant contributions to our organizations.

Ministries are the Guides: Within the StoryBrand framework, if the donor is the hero, then the nonprofit is the guide. Nonprofits exist to assist the "victim" facing challenges from the villain. We step in as guides, helping heroes effect change. It's our privilege to serve in this capacity, guiding those in need through life's challenges.

So, Who is The FOCUS Group? We consider ourselves "extras" in your story. Our mission is to support you, helping articulate your mission in ways that resonate with potential heroes and demonstrating how their contributions can significantly impact the lives of those you serve. 

The dialogue with Donald Miller was not just an exchange of ideas but a celebration of the donor's heroic role in the philanthropic narrative. By adopting this donor-centric approach, we not only enhance our communication strategies but also help foster a culture of generosity and impact. 

Now, having said all of this– is the donor really the hero; is the non-profit really the guide? Isn’t it God who is working through us? Absolutely! It is all God’s love being manifested in the form of funding, hard work, and redemption as is reflected in the verse: “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12, NIV 

The path forward is one of partnership and storytelling. At The FOCUS Group, we are committed to supporting ministries as they guide their donors toward meaningful action. Our dedication to this narrative-driven approach—recognizing the donor as the hero—fuels our passion for helping organizations make a lasting difference in the world.

Leave a Comment