CL Podcast Episode 005 - How you can become a better story teller for your non-profit

Show Notes:

Thanks so much for listening to my first solo podcast!  Passionate people work for non-profits because the cause is something they believe in.  So of course we want as many people as possible to know about it!

But how do we do that?  Most of us have been taught quarterly communication strategy and personal donor care.  But what about all these new opportunities to share provided for us through social media tools?  We are going to dip our toes into the sea of how to's for social media.

Here are some things I share:

CL 005
CL 005


First Touch Email Stats: My personal experience with most mass emails being dead by noon:


Infographic: Best Times to Tweet or Post on Facebook found on (Click the infographic to see original).

Thanks so much for listening to the CL Podcast.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!

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.

The danger you face by living a mediocre story

People want to be known.  They want to be a critical part of a story.  It makes sense that the Golden Rule works, do onto others as you would have them do unto you.  The rule is an evaluation of your story and the opportunity to create something better in someone else's story. Is there a more powerful leadership tool than the Golden Rule?  Is the greatest danger to our leadership to settle for a mediocre story?  Those people, or leaders, who had the greatest impact in my life were people I saw desiring to live a great story.  Every once in a while I think it's okay to ask yourself as a leader, "If I was reading my own story, would I turn to the next page and keep reading?"



The must read for Non-Profit story tellers

I've found the book that should be required reading for those leading communication in non-profit organizations. The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World by Dan Portnoy is the clearest strategy I have read on how to share the impact of your organization online.

Portnoy's strategy is refreshing because he educates on what makes a compelling story.

"The standard story is quite simple (but it's not necessarily easy to communicate). It has a setting, a protagonist, and an antagonist. It has an inciting incident. It includes three parts: Act One (beginning), Act Two (middle), and Act Three (end) and the stakes must become greater.

The book describes each component of story and how to identify the same components already present in your non-profit work. Portnoy also provides thoughts on how to build your story as well as the timing for when each part of the story should be shared with your tribe.

A myth in non-profit work the book focuses on: Donors only want measurable data in order to judge if a investment should be made. Donors are no different than you and I, they are looking to be engaged in a great story. The static website is the least useful story telling platform yet most non-profit communication leaders believe it makes them "current."

Portnoy writes, "Your website has to be a living, breathing entity. You don't need a website, you need a hub of activity - a communication machine that never shuts off." This is the most common mistake of non-profits, they build a static website that shares information but it never changes. One of the most cost effective tools to share current stories - a blog.

If you're ready to accept that things have changed and there is a new opportunity for engagement online than this is a MUST read! The book is currently FREE to Kindle users who are Amazon Prime members. To purchase the book click on any of the links above or purchase below! You will be thankful you read this book!