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Purposeful and authentic storytelling is vital in any organization, but it’s especially important for philanthropic organizations seeking to create a culture of philanthropy. The stories your organization tells are not only catalytic interactions with your donors, but also an important way for you to keep people motivated for the mission.

How to Become an Nonprofit That’s Great at Storytelling

If you want to effectively use stories to create a culture of philanthropy within your organization, here are three things you should know:

  1. Listen before you talk. Unfortunately, stories are far too often more monologue than dialogue. This causes key stakeholders who are critical to the success of the vision to feel relegated to the role of spectator, rather than being an engaged, respected, and active participant. When you engage your staff and board in the stories your organization tells, it results in more shared ownership and a greater desire to engage.
  2. Try being “interested” rather than “interesting.” Storytelling must be about meaningful, authentic, two-way conversations when you’re engaging volunteers, advocates, and those willing to make a philanthropic investment in the mission. We must spend more time being interested instead of simply trying to be interesting.
  3. Create a goal for every story. Each of our stories must have a goal. They must also be memorable and actionable. Oftentimes organizations create communication plans that lack integration with their goals. Then leaders get frustrated when they’re not seeing any measurable results. Every communication plan should be measured by the intended feedback you’re hoping to receive, not the message that’s being delivered.
Great Storytelling Leads to a Culture of Philanthropy

Creating a culture of philanthropy requires that everyone within the organization speak the same language and tell the same story. Not only that, but all messages and all communication channels should be integrated to increase interaction, involve others more meaningfully in the life of the organization, enhance a shared vision, and create viral advocates for the cause. In short, philanthropic organizations are those that move from talking at people to talking with people — and they do so with purpose and intent.

If you want to learn more about how to create a culture of philanthropy within your organization, don’t miss our free resource, Rethinking a Culture of Philanthropy: Key Concepts to Assess an Organization’s Culture.” In it, you’ll learn everything your organization needs to know to effectively create a philanthropic culture throughout your organization.

Have you implemented any of these strategies into your storytelling? What kind of difference did it make?