Every organization has a story and yours is no different. It is important to be able to share your story in a format that fits the situation; all too often organizations get busy and the story never gets told. Or, everyone in the organization is not telling the same story. Stories are important for nonprofits and ministries as they share what the organization is doing in a way that allows the listener of the story to connect. Stories bring forth emotions and when people experience emotions they connect, and often donate.
Let’s tell a few stories….
There are several types of stories, but one of the most important stories to tell is a story about the impact the organization is having on those it serves and or its community. Quite often, the story of impact is one that tugs at the heartstrings as you talk about someone that you have served.
Begin by introducing the main character in the story. Who is it? What do they look like when they access services? Paint a picture here that the reader can see in his/her mind. If you are able to describe feelings, feelings are particularly helpful in connecting someone to a story.
Next, share the problems or challenges that the character is facing. How long has the problem existed? What other efforts have been made to solve the problem?
Now that you have talked about the character and the problem, it is time to talk about how the organization helped solve the problem. What specifically did your staff do? What programs or services did you provide? How long did it take to make a difference? Were there small achievements along the way?
Since different people will respond to different types of stories, it is important to have several stories and to know which story to share when.
Encourage everyone in the organization to write stories as they happen so that you will always have new stories to share. Plan to spend a few minutes at each board meeting sharing a story about someone you have served. This will help the board to remain connected to the mission and to become passionate about the work of the organization.
Develop a system within the organization to collect stories. Perhaps you can develop a story sheet or notebook where stories can be written and shared. Or, if your organization is working to go paperless, set up a google document where stories can be added throughout the year. Encourage staff and volunteers to write and share the stories of the organization. Remember when we praise and encourage publicly, we encourage the behavior to continue.
Stories can be used for a variety of purposes including grant proposals, meetings with donors, giving letters, press releases, social media, etc. With all of these uses, spending some time telling a good story can be one of the most cost-effective things you do.