What Airbnb can teach nonprofits about storytelling

Life and Mission

Aug 10 2022 • 17 mins


Every story gives us a chance to choose. Do we set up a “them and us” narrative, or will we do the work to offer another perspective?

Airbnb runs an ad featuring a family of shaggy “monsters” enjoying their vacation. the goal of the ad is to invite people to become hosts on the platform. It starts where many of us are when it comes to inviting strangers to stay in our homes–it’s a little scary. But then we see a delightful series of scenes: enjoying beautiful views with a cuppa tea, a family hike, collecting shells, talking selfies, watching a movie, playing games…

These are simple things we enjoy with our own families.

The shaggy monsters clean up after themselves, straighten a picture on the wall, and leave a thank you note. As they close the door, we finally see them as they really are–a human family, just like us.

Click here to watch the ad.

Kevin Morby’s song, Beautiful Strangers, provides a relaxed musical backdrop. Not a word is spoken. It’s a beautifully orchestrated story with an important message:

Strangers aren’t that strange. We have more in common than not.

The stories we tell carry this kind of power to connect, too.

Unfortunately, in our attempts to elicit emotion (or donations), we often emphasize our differences rather than our shared humanity. When we do this, we miss opportunities to present a realistic and nuanced view of the problems we solve. At worst, we reinforce stereotypes and even exploit the people we are called to serve.

Every story gives us a chance to choose. Do we set up a “them and us” narrative, or will we do the work to offer another perspective?

Check out the free Mission Writers video workshop
Three Essential Stories Every Missionary, Ministry, and Nonprofit Needs to Tell
go.kayhelm.com

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