How you can save your non-profit

Let's say there was no financial gain for giving to a charity.  Is what you do compelling enough to make people give when there isn't a personal benefit to giving?  Who would you turn to and ask for support?  Even more so, how would you communicate what was happening? What's keeping you from communicating like that now?

I've heard the answers to that question:

Lack of know how.

Lack of tools.

Lack of time.

Lack of proof it would work.

But what if we didn't have the option to change?  There is a seismic shift happening under the feet of the non-profit culture that is going to cause the whole thing to split in half.  One side is going to fall away and the other will become something new.  These seismic waves look like: Increased debt limiting the ability of people to give, giving on a global scale, increased awareness of global issues, online giving, companies built upon mission and not just profit, Kickstarter giving opportunities, increased number of non-profits, and greater fear around recession to name a few.

Which side would you want to be standing on when the change happens?

I want to help you help your non-profit survive the split.  Here are some ways you can begin to lead like the divide has already occurred.

1.  Assume the role of CST (Chief Story Teller) - If you lead a non-profit you have to assume the role as CST.  Obviously, to be a CST you have to always be looking for stories to be able to share stories.  The best tool a leader has as CST is a smart phone.  Capturing the story is critical.  Videos are great.  Images are good.  Words are quickly forgotten.  The new leader will be in the moment but will also be capturing the moment.  Are you capturing the vision of your organization when it's happening and sharing it with people?  Your smart phone can help you capture video, images, and words in the moment.

2.  Be consistant - Once you've decided to assume the role of the CST than you need to share stories consistently.  I would recommend once a week.   Our challenge is not to get our tribes attention but to keep it.  In our new world of unlimited information distraction is all too common.  Help those who want to be spreading good words about your organization with something to talk about.

3. Actually tell a story - There is a narrative around your non-profit.  And your non-profit has to be the protagonist.  Which means there has to be an antagonist.  The story needs to have scenes and conflict.  And the Hero has to win!  How are you telling the story in such a way that makes your organization the hero in the community you serve?

4.  Call to Action - Because of all the options people have with their attention and their time the biggest investors in the future will also be the most involved.  Don't just share a story in a way that allows someone to remain a spectator.  Seth Godin uses this haunting thought around belief in his book Tribes (p. 138)

People Don't believe what you tell them

They rarely believe what you show them.

They often believe what their friends tell them.

They always believe what they tell themselves.

What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves.  Stories about the future and about change.

Are you teling stories in this way?  Are you inviting participation and personal action?

I'm assuming what you do in your non-profit is important in your community.  So are you communicating that it is?  Are you communicating in a way that would cause someone to financially support what your doing when there isn't financial gain for them to give?  The habits you create now as a CST might be the reason your organization still exists 10, 20, or 30 years from now.