Everybody’s Got a Story – So Tell It!

Kim Mitchell is often recognized for her fresh perspective on innovative philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and stakeholder and community engagement. Kim has decades of experience in leadership positions in philanthropy, human resources, and consulting while at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Xerox Corporation.  

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Written by Kim Mitchell

In an environment of shifting priorities and shrinking philanthropic and government dollars, amidst a season of increasing demand for programs and services, competition for funding is fierce! The competition is not just the familiar legacy nonprofits who have been stalwart program providers trying to solve what seem to be intractable problems. Now the competition includes a wave of new organizations and social enterprises that are creating a range of solutions to emerging issues like food, justice, and climate change. 

One of the strategies that can be a differentiator is Storytelling. The truth is, most people love a good story and there is an abundance of literature that speaks to its power. As Greg Satell wrote in Forbes Magazine in August of 2015, “A compelling story can evolve into a narrative that inspires a shared mission. That, in turn, can lead to a long and great legacy.”  For years the Disney Leadership Institute has used the power of story to illuminate the leadership values and behaviors of Walt Disney.  The examples they share during the program speak to the company’s legacy, strong culture, and deep belief in “happiness and pixie dust” as its product.

As further evidence of the power of story, The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference is an annual event that attracts thousands of nonprofit leaders and marketing experts to strengthen their competency and storytelling prowess. The sole purpose of this conference is to help organizations tell better stories to raise more money. The testimonials from past participants are powerful stories themselves and in fact, there are examples of the practical and tangible tools that generate proven results. “1 story, 1 month, 1 million dollars” is one of many examples of the conference’s impact. They promote the notion that “With better stories, you can raise more money.” (nonprofitstorytellingconference.com)

Last November, the Support Center attended the conference and experienced firsthand the benefits of the expertise of presenters and panelists whose presentations, examples and instructions aimed to strengthen our storytelling skills. The staff walked away with a wealth of information that has enhanced our digital media and marketing strategy in addition to the nuggets captured below.  We hope they inspire you to sharpen your storytelling capabilities, increase your recognition, strengthen your brand and attract more funders. Things to consider when developing your story:

  • Write from your own tender spot
  • Convey what’s your why
  • Cultivate intrigue
  • All stories must lead to action
  • Create “Sneezers” – create sound bite of stories that spread the virus and generate contagious enthusiasm

This can be a game changer for small organizations. Some of the testimonials describe increases in funding, participation rates and the diversity of the donor base. There is an old expression often used that says it’s not just who you know, but who knows you….so how about it…? Do the right people know you and the work you do? What are the stories people should know? What’s the tender spot? How do you capture the hearts and minds of the community of funders and donors who will support your work? As we all work to master the art of our storytelling, let’s do so with the goal to “make a dent in the universe” (Steve Jobs) and accelerate positive social change.

For more information on storytelling and how it can help your organization, contact Marleni Marte, Communications Manager. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops related to storytelling and other communication topics.

 

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