Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tell the Story As if Your Life Depends On It

We are the fiscal agent for 50 BDPA chapters around the country. Occassionally, we run across articles that we think would be useful for those chapters ... or other nonprofits. Here is one that I think any person serving in a leadership position for a nonprofit should take to heart. This article was written by Susan Carey Dempsey and published earlier this month by onPhilanthropy.

When I meet with the leaders of a nonprofit organization for the first time, I often ask them what they would say if I grabbed them by the collar and demanded to know, “If your organization ceased to exist tomorrow, what would happen to the world?” The question always startles them, because they’d assumed that their mission was perfectly obvious, their cause deserving, and that if consultants like me could provide a little guidance, they could attract funds from donors large and small.

Having shocked them back to the moment of primal scream, I can begin to walk them -- whether they’re for Saving the Gecko or Banning the Split Infinitive -- through the indispensable process of telling their story. It’s also described as “Making the Case,” but the fundraising case we’re all familiar with is often a merely formulaic recitation that’s too easily ignored. Let’s look for a minute at what you can accomplish, if you really think about telling your story, as well as you possibly can.

Read the rest of Ms. Dempsey's article here.

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