Let’s face it – online marketers send a lot of email. But when was the last time you personally opened up your email inbox and were truly excited to read one of the messages waiting for you?

It happened to me 6 times last month. A series of email messages from Octavio, a friend of my fiance, writing about his month-long journey across Mexico kept me on my toes and excited about my inbox throughout July.

Octavio isn’t a communications consultant. But anyone interested in communications could learn a thing or two from him about writing and sending email. No, he didn’t segment his address book. No, he didn’t do any a/b split testing. What he did do is tell me a great story. This is how it began.

“So to those who don´t know what I´m doing in Mexico let me get you up to speed. As some of you might have noticed I´m half Mexican. Years ago, my dad moved back to Mexico to a small town called Mechoacanejo in the state of Jalisco. Well, pop died back in 1990 and was buried there. And I had this crazy idea of coming to Mexico, visiting his grave and connecting to a country that I’ve never been part of. I´ll be traveling for a month around central and southern Mexico and I’ll be writing to tell you my story.”

In that one paragraph, Octavio:

1. established the protatgonist – himself.

2. set up the story with a situation everyone can understand and relate to – searching for roots, family, culture and identity.

3. outlined his objective – to visit his dad’s grave and connect to a homeland he hadn’t experienced before.

I was hooked.

Throughout the rest of the emails he outlined conflicts that happened, heroic characters who helped him out of jams, and ultimately the happy ending – meeting long-lost members of his family in the town by chance. He peppered his often harrowing story with lessons learned and humor and never forgot to show me through words and experiences what he was seeing, smelling, and doing.

So what’s Octavio’s personal story have to do with non profit communications? Everything. Non profit stories are just as exciting. There’s no shortage of stories to tell, but I’ve noticed there is a shortage of storytellers.

My advice – Collect your stories. Tell your stories. Write your stories. There’s inspiration there. I promise.