We remember best through stories.
Our ancestors passed on their knowledge and values through the generations by telling stories. Today we try to understand the world around us and how we fit into the scheme of things by listening to the news, reading a novel and watching a movie — forms of storytelling that help us to organize these events into our stream of consciousness. Children enjoy bedtime stories; religious teachings were conveyed through parables; and lawyers tend to win jury trials if their closing arguments tell a story beyond simply stating the facts of the case.
Stories help people to believe in what you stand for.
The success of a nonprofit organization relies largely on how it can stay relevant to the community. Charities, foundations and special interest groups work for essential causes. Professional associations and trade organizations provide the education and support their members need to serve their community in the highest standards.
So why do many nonprofits struggle for sustainable support?
In order to stay relevant, your organization must have a compelling story to tell. It must have an honest message that tells about the problems we face, the dreams we share for a better place and the road ahead. Your story helps people to understand your struggle which will help them want to be part of your victory.
Mission vs. Story
Organizations most often think of their mission as their story and vice versa. In reality, they are two different things. Your mission is the grand brushstroke and guiding principle that defines how your nonprofit provides value to the community. Your stories bring the grand concept of your mission down to human scale, making it more personal – something people can more easily relate to.
There’s a social enterprise in Chicago that’s driven by a simple mission and an incredible story. Zealous Good, founded by Brittany Martin Graunke, matches donors with nonprofits based on specific needs. They reduce the cost and effort of getting necessary goods to charities.
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