A Story about the Value of Storytelling
By Guest Blogger, Pamela Crouch, Executive Director, Living Proof Exhibit
I'm a storyteller. I'm Irish, it's what we do. When Linda asked me to write a blog post about storytelling, my first thought was why? To me, it's natural to tell stories. I tell them to communicate emotions, memories, and events. It's so much a part of my DNA, I forget that not everyone does it. So here goes -
Why is story telling important to nonprofit work?
A story communicates the “why” of everything we do. Data and measurables are all necessary, but they don't address the human aspect of why we do what we do. People support people – not the organization. When you tell a story about someone, you make a connection that links donations to actual people.
When should you use stories?
All. the. time.
I call donors and tell them a story about someone that their funds helped. For example, one donor gave us funds to purchase printing supplies for one of our Creative Sessions. At that session, a mom who has cancer was able to show her sons how to use the printing supplies. For two hours in that session, mom wasn't a cancer patient; she was an expert in printing. The boys got to see her helping others print as well. I could have emailed the donor or sent a hand-written note (yes, do this too), but a call allowed me to put emotion into the thank you in a way that the written word can't. Emotion. Yes, that is a word that we need to celebrate in the nonprofit world. We make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Weave that into your story.
How should you tell a story?
You need to use verbs and adjectives to create a scene. Describe the person or place. Paint a picture with your words. You work in a nonprofit. Let your passion for who you help shine through your story.
Passion makes for powerful storytelling.
Be in awe of who you help and how you help. Share that with anyone who will listen.
Use your voice to be an ambassador for your mission.
Tell the stories that touch the heart.
Once you start telling stories, you will be amazed at how energized you feel. You'll make stronger connections to your work and strengthen the connections to your donors. Never lose sight of who you help and that will be all the material you will ever need to become a master storyteller.
Pamela Crouch has been the Executive Director of Living Proof Exhibit since 2014. Prior to that she was Executive Director of MidCoast Fine Arts. Ms. Crouch is also a certified teacher with 35 years of experience in education and has served on the boards of multiple arts organizations.