story telling

Do you expose your guts?

On Wednesday I wrote a post about one of my new favorite books The Non Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World by Dan Portnoy (on Twitter follow Dan @danportnoy or follow his company @PortnoyMediaGroup). As a director for a non-profit I found it to be a thrilling read (just started my second time through it). I find it is more difficult to get our story to stick and receive involvement from the community than it was five years ago. There is a BIG difference between giving information and sharing a engaging story. It's never been easier to tell our story because of digital resources but we aren't the only charity outside of church anymore. We are not only competing for donations but we are competing for attention and involvement.

Here's my question for you as a leader: Do you expose your guts? One of the key phrases in blogging is "Content is king." Like people wanting great content on a blog people want to see the guts, the things inside the organization or team that make us what we are and why we do what we do! Portnoy presses back on organizations challenging them to expose their personality in their communications instead of just feeding the tribe organizational outputs (people fed, wells built, homeless given shelter, etc).

Portnoy writes,

To communicate the best possible story for your organization it's important to show your DNA or personality in your communications. Organizations that use the digital space to mirror the reality of their day-to-day have the easiest time in the digital space. Why? Because they aren't creating extra work for themselves. Use your website to convey you, your office attitude and the work you do. This is definitely another case of simple-but-not-easy.

Your organizations story is bigger than what you do, the community wants to know who you are. Authenticity is critical.

Photo credit to Patrick Lanigan

As I encourage my peers in our organization to expose their guts (Dan used DNA but I'm working on eye grabbing blog titles) I will occassionaly get asked,

"We've always been sort of a special forces group that flies under the radar. That's what has made us so effective. Don't you think if we tell everyone what we are thinking and why we are there we'll have less of an impact?"

The answer is simply NO. The less we share the less our community will support us. First impressions of organization are built around the information available to the community. We forget that the organization has a website that can be viewed from a mobile device. The gig is up, they just read the mission statement.

Here are some ideas to expose your guts:

1. Every leader should Tweet, if not blog - Thinking about making a change? Take a vote from your tribe. Feeling frustrated with an obstacle? Seek solutions from your tribe. Excited about what lies ahead? Share it with the tribe. Leadership vulnerability develops community trust.

2. Coach your tribe - If I work for a non-profit that serves local teens and families why am I not being a maven of information and linking parents to the very best blogs and tweets to help them? As the book points out everyone wants to be a part of a great story. Help people participate in one, bring them great information. Your organization will become a trusted source and that is part of your narrative.

3. The life of a volunteer - Do you have volunteers? Do you ever share their story? Do you have pictures of them at their work? Do you have pictures of them volunteering? People can't live a vision they can't see. Show people the vision!

4. Show your desk - The most important work is probably on your desk right now, it's front and center. Have you ever thought about taking a picture and sharing the story of why it's on your desk?

I'm hoping that you have some ideas too? I need your help, we all need your help on becoming better story tellers. If you have an idea please share it below.

Your organization has a story, it has a narrative. If you want to learn how to share it more effectively, purchase The Non-Profit Narrative: How telling Stories Can Change the World. Below is the link to purchase the book through, both the paperback and E-Book (Don't forget that if you are a Kindle owner and Amazon Prime member the book is FREE!).

Click on the book below to purchase the paperback:

In reader use this link to purchase the paperback:

Click on the book below to purchase the E-Book

In reader use this link to purchase the E-Book:

Please don't forget to leave a comment below to help us with ideas around exposing our guts as an organization!

The new "Fab Five" tools of relational fundraising: #3

"Fab Five" tool #3 Account

YouTube is about volume.  Anyone can use it and post just about anything.  There's very few things you can't find on YouTube, a lot of times you end up seeing things you weren't out to see in the first place.  YouTube is somewhat cluttered.  Consider the neater, cleaner, more organized brother of YouTube. is more about sharing art than finding random videos.  I like it because I don't have to worry about what is going to be seen on our organization's Vimeo page, the sidebar on YouTube can get out of control on content (Working for an organization that relates to teens, you just never know what might pop up in a search bar or sidebar when the word "teen" is in the search).

A Vimeo video can be put into a blog post as easily as a YouTube video and I just like the more professional look of Vimeo over YouTube.  So, if you choose to use video to share the very best stories, I would go with establishing an account with and posting them there.  After all, your producing art not random media.



Your stories are boring people

What stories matter to the tribe? Another questions might be, if a tribe exists does the story have to be in words?  Most current tribes are moved far more by images than they are by words.  So, why are you wearing out your keyboard trying to tell such a great story when the camera on your iPhone is a better story teller than you are?  Which is more powerful?  A long written email or a picture where the tribe can make comments and see comments of other tribe members?  Of course the latter is because you just involved the tribe and reduced the distance between the two (or four, or eight, or 100) members of the tribe.

So you might want to rethink your long written story and just use a picture!