A typical Hollywood movie is 100 minutes long. In general, things don’ start getting better for our protagonist until the last 20 minutes – that’s the canonical third act. The other 80 minutes is jammed with trials, tribulations, setbacks, bullies, monsters, suffering and tears.

20% positive, 80% negative — Just think about that the next time you construct a story for your non-profits. Most of us are afflicted with what story guru Robert McKee calls “negaphobia,” an obsessive desire to avoid conflict and darkness. Problem is, that happy ending? Part of what makes it so satisfying is the darkness you (and the protagonist) had to weather along the way.

There is no happy ending without peril and travail. There is no good without evil. There is no light without dark.

Don’t be emotionally stingy!