Tell Me A Story - ResourcesUnite!


As a leader within your non-profit organization, a big part of your job is to move people to act. I would argue that it is your most important job.

In one way or the other, you are always trying to engage individuals, groups and businesses. Maybe this week your focus is on your upcoming fundraiser. Next week could be the volunteers you need. And the week after that you are recruiting new board members.

Gone are the days that you engage and inspire people through Powerpoint slides, graphs, and glossy brochures. By and large, these methods do not work. Truth be told, they never really did. We got lazy. No, if we truly want to engage people, we need to look backward for the most effective strategy when it comes to inspiring the masses.

We need to be masters of storytelling. Stories are what gets inside of us and makes a lasting impression. Skewed statistics are forgotten almost immediately. A recent article in Forbes titled “How To Tell A Good Story,” referenced a Stanford research study that showed statistics alone have a retention rate of 5-10%, but when coupled with anecdotes, the retention rate rises to 65-70%.

Listening to you tell the story of the woman or child that was forever changed because of your work stays with people forever. Looking into your eyes as you share this personal story creates an instant connection. The passion you have grabs a hold of your audience and refuses to let go.

With so many organizations competing for the same donors, volunteers, and board members, a good story will set you apart from the rest. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to how others are effectively engaging you. What drew you in?

For me, it’s the person or organization that allowed themselves to be vulnerable. They were genuine, spoke from the heart, and didn’t pretend to have all the answers. The passion they had for their work was evident and they weren’t shy about showing it to the world. They painted a vivid picture of their work.

The stories you tell must permeate everything you do. You simply can’t afford to only tell your organization’s story in person. Your stories must be shared by others and most definitely needs to be found in your marketing. Facebook is a good example of this. Do me a favor. Write a status update 2-3 sentences long. No pictures. No video. Write about your mission or even a specific service you provide. Now wait two or three hours and tell a story about your mission or of a service you provide. Include a photo or a video. Write 2-3 sentences about how your agency made a significant difference in someone’s life. Share the person’s feeling. Maybe even mention how that experience made you feel.

Compare the two posts later on how many people viewed it, liked it, and maybe if you’re lucky, shared it.

There is no comparison. It won’t even be close. People will swarm to the second post. We want to hear your story and get inspired. And when you do that, you’ve got us.