Saturday, April 13, 2019

Why storytelling for your board members matter!

Storytelling is a powerful tool, whether you use it in a presentation to the board or at the table with a friend sipping a cup of coffee. This is because our brains are hardwired for narratives and people recall and retain information more effectively when it is presented in story form. Storytelling has always been a powerful tool since the existence of human communication. While storytelling is not the only way to engage people with your ideas, it's certainly a critical part of the success of your venture or nonprofit.

Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people, people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them.

So how can your nonprofit benefit from board members storytelling activities?

Storytelling for board members is very crucial to the growth of your nonprofit, and this is because when board members start telling their own stories regarding the nonprofit they work with, magic can happen, they inspire others to give and get involved.

When the board members share their vision for what your organization could possibly accomplish, they are re-igniting their own passion as they speak. And when they are comfortable telling stories, you raise more money, and more people become engaged with your organization.

Storytelling for board members is not an easy task, and sometimes it feel like a lost art. However, when you get your board members excited to tell stories it can really energize your organization and the people your work with. When your board members share the story of your organization it generates enthusiasm for spreading the word, finding new friends and even fundraising!

Many organizations have been able to secure funds because of the stories their board members told. It is crucial for you to understand that there is great power in getting your board members to tell stories!
As you might know from your fundraising work, a good amount of fundraising is really about communications and storytelling. Telling stories are often part of the cultivation process, which does not really require an ask. This is a great, introductory step that board members can take towards fundraising.

So, how do we get board members to share their story about the organization?

Encourage them to use their personal story along the way
Every board member has a story as to why they chose to join the board. Their personal testimonial is a powerful and interesting way to answer the question, “So what do you do?” If your board members attend community events as ambassadors, this is the story they should tell when introducing themselves and networking. Sharing personal motivations is a great way to start building connection with a donor.

They can also use an Impact Story

Impact stories are all around us at non-profits, but since board members can be somewhat removed from the day-to-day operations, we have to find ways to reconnect them with the impact. This might mean that you invited a staff member to attend the board meeting and share an impact story during the first few minutes. It might also mean that every quarter, you give them new story talking points on a business card-sized piece of paper. Make sure that you are regularly giving board members new stories to tell and if it’s available, some talking points to help them remember what to say.

Get then to know the Founding Story

I like to suggest that board members know the founding story because sometimes when they are talking to people about the non-profit, some people will want to know how the organization got started. Every organization got its start somewhere and that is a story worth knowing. Get your board members to know the founding story of your organization.

And now let them practice

By giving your board members the opportunity to practice, their story will grow tighter, and their confidence in telling it will increase. Even though they know their stories intellectually, your board members probably need practice telling it because sharing stories takes practice. By encouraging them to share their story FIRST, in every possible interaction with donors/prospects, you are guaranteeing them that critical practice.

Conclusion

If you want your ideas to spread as a wild fire in a forest it’s important to get your board members involved in the part of storytelling. Telling a story is the single best way to “transfer” that idea to each member. Without that genuine connection between you and your audience, your goals will most likely not be met. And the best thing about storytelling for your board members is that it’s easy, Board members don’t have to study or memorize anything because they already know the story of your organization. Its fun, takes little preparation, they will have success quickly and their confidence will grow.

Stories matter a lot in fundraising situations, yet we often overlook this incredible tool in our rush to learn more about our prospect, or to tell her/him all about our organization’s great activities and accomplishments. We need to be able to effectively utilize this tool, especially with our organization’s board members. Get your board members to share stories because storytelling raises more money.

I’d love to hear from you regarding this topic, please share your thoughts or experience in the Comments box below!

Rumishael Ulomi is a Freelance Christian Consultant, Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker in the areas of Christian Ministry, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Social Sector development residing in Moshi,Tanzania.

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