Last week I was with an organization (to remain nameless) that had a super simple message but a really bad story.
In talking with the group it was instantly apparent that the message was trumped by a really bad story. While the org had a powerful, simple message on paper, the story I heard from several staff and board members was one about a long history of ‘not fundraising’, ‘yeah buts’ and program stigmas. “We are still very much a little charity that deals with something most people are uncomfortable talking about. Donors aren’t used to giving to us and they think we have all the money we need.”
I heard this again and again.
Let me tell you a different story about the same organization… all true.
- This ‘little charity’ generates $15M/year through several funding streams – including fundraising.
- It impacts over 8,000 families each year and completely changes… even saves the lives of scores of children who have been subjected to some of the worst atrocities imaginable.
- People come from all over the world to work with this team of inspired and innovative leaders, counselors and program managers.
Your story is what you are. YOU tell your story. It can be eyyore-ish or awesome.
Write down, in bullet-point-form, the things that get you REALLY FIRED UP about your organization. Connect the dots (literally) and you have the start of a pretty good story.
We did this exercise with the organization mentioned above. They were the ones to generate the compelling storylines. The process illustrated that they already owned both stories. We didn’t come in from the outside, for instance, and try to write a new story.