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PIXAR's 22 Rules of Storytelling - Part 2

Pixar’s Rule #16 exposes a mistake I see so many nonprofit organizations make. They describe their campaign issue in a way that makes perfect sense to their colleagues, especially the lobbyists and policy experts. They talk about millions and billions of dollars, regulatory impact and legislative process.


What they fail to do is make clear how a bill or regulation will directly impact an individual. Not thousands or millions of people, but that one person who is reading the email (or someone they care about).


Here is an example I see often. A big health organization will ask volunteers to help increase funding for a particular government program by $32 million. 


Does your volunteer really know how many people are helped by $32 million? Is it clear what will be lost for an individual who relies on that program if the funding amount isn’t approved?


I regularly teach advocacy staff to write about the “street-level impact” of a bill or regulation. They need to make clear how the funding directly benefits an individual - like the patient trying to afford their treatment or the parent needing child care so they can work. 


For volunteers, a bill isn’t about millions of dollars in funding or revised rule-making. It’s being able to walk up to the pharmacy counter knowing they can pay for that life-changing prescription without having to skip meals this week or accepting the job that will finally provide their family with financial stability.


This is how your volunteers relate to your issue. It’s what they care about. And it’s what compels them to take action, even if it’s not how your inside-the-beltway colleagues talk about it.


As the Pixar rule says, define the stakes, but be sure to do it in a way that your volunteers can truly relate to. 

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