How an Interactive Playbook Promotes Federal Investment

Developed in partnership with Avalanche Insights for the Omidyar Network


  • Message Testing
  • Narrative Strategy
  • Interactive Playbook


  • Economic Justice
  • Democracy

Narratives about “balancing our federal budget like a family checkbook” have fueled economic austerity for four decades, to the detriment of American families, social services and infrastructure. To regain support for federal investment, we don’t need to construct a more persuasive argument—we need to tell more engaging stories.

Omidyar Network is reimagining capitalism—and rewriting the story of national prosperity.

Informed by deep research, our interactive narrative playbook developed in partnership with Avalanche Insights for the Omidyar grantee network is empowering Capitol Hill changemakers to start new conversations that shift perspectives about our government, our tax dollars and our shared future.

How do we convince Americans they are worth investing in?

The national conversation about federal spending is largely dominated by anxieties around the federal deficit. Instead of deflecting from that anxiety, we theorized that validation could help build trust with audiences—and that trust could lay the foundation for new perspectives to flourish.

Building from that hypothesis, we conducted extensive message testing through several rounds of randomized control trials, each isolating pivotal narrative strategies.

What can statistical analysis reveal about the power of storytelling?

From message testing, we gathered qualitative and quantitative data about how audiences receive and respond to new federal investment narratives. We analyzed the results thoroughly, evaluating whether each narrative led to greater policy agreement—and whether that policy agreement correlated to increased confidence in the government and greater outlook toward the future overall. These results uncovered the insights about what makes a narrative powerful, and why.

Our research and data analysis led us to defining insights:


What would help policy wonks loosen up a little?

Omidyar grantees work to advance new ideas about our economy through the private, nonprofit and public sectors. They take their duty seriously—and rightly so—but that seriousness shouldn’t stifle their imagination. We crafted an interactive guide for grantee partners that situates the data-rich graphs and strategy synopses they’ve come to expect next alongside surprising GIFs, memes and illustrations. The end result: A playful playbook that shows policy experts how to translate economic jargon into plainspoken, powerful narratives that transform attitudes about federal spending.


Where can we unearth common ground?

From Capitol Hill to local communities, new connections can revive our national economy.

Austerity is more than a narrative framework, it’s an economic force that has shaped landscapes, skylines, and the trajectory of individual lives. Through rigorous research, A—B and Omidyar have identified how new federal investment narratives can be even more formative for American communities. As part of our collaborative approach, we presented this playbook to a group of congressional staffers, and now, they’re part of a growing rank of leaders inspiring their constituents to reconsider how our nation should redistribute resources toward our common goals.

The interactive playbook concludes with a quiz, allowing users to test their retention and comprehension of research insights and narrative strategies.

“Austerity rests on the principle that the government should spend less because it can't be trusted (i.e. it's wasteful and misguided).
If you're asking how we can ensure better times ahead and suggesting government investment as the tool, that requires a level of trust. TRUST is what we want to foster.”

Alexis Krieg, Omidyar Network

Want to read more? Contact Us to see the complete playbook.

Message Testing
Narrative Strategy
Interactive Playbook


Economic Justice

A—B Contributors

Andre Banks — Founder & CEO
Mia Steinberg, Ph.D. — Research Director
Jinah Lee — Creative Director
Amy Jacobs — Senior Copywriter
Raquel Fossett — Senior Associate
Allison Kadin — Project Manager
Katie Tolkowsky — Strategist

Other Contributors

Avalanche Insights — Research