Stories are important. Whether we realize it or not, our lives are driven by stories and telling stories. Think about when you go home after a long day at work. Do you tell your family and friends all of the numbers and facts that you learned about throughout the day, or do you go home telling stories? How about when your co-worker spilled their entire lunch on their nice shirt 20 minutes before they were giving a presentation? Would you have told people that story? My guess is that you are more likely to tell you family and friends the story, and less likely to talk about the accounting project that you worked on.
Now, it doesn’t matter what you come home and tell your family and friends after work, but in the nonprofit sector, we are always trying to connect people to our cause. Therefore, we want people to come across our organization and see it as interesting and worth sharing as the funny story about what happened to their co-worker before the meeting. We want people to hear about our organization and immediately want to share it with everyone they know.
So, how do we make sure that people are doing this? How can we ensure that people like our organization enough that they want to share it with their friends and family?
By Telling Stories.
Just as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, we are more likely to share stories with other people than just facts and figures. Numbers might be some people’s jam, but typically a story will affect people a whole lot more.
So, the next time you are asked about what you do for work, don’t just tell them that you are a program manager for a local nonprofit organization, or a grant writer for an organization that works with youth. Those descriptions aren’t going to spread and they definitely won’t attract more people to your organization and its cause.
Instead, try describing what you do within a story.
Stranger: “What do you do for a living?”
You: “You know, that is a really interesting question! I work with people like Chris. Chris is this incredible 17-year-old boy who has been through all kinds of abuse. He was neglected as a child, and abused by his parents. It was really tough to see him when I was first introduced to Chris because he wouldn’t look people in the eye, he wouldn’t try in any of his school classes, and he didn’t seem to care about anything or anyone. But, you should see Chris today. He has a 3.8 GPA, is running for Student Government next year, and is excited to hear back from 3 colleges that he applied to. Sorry, that was a long answer to your question, but I can’t help it. I love what I do, and I love the organization that I work for. You should check us out, or stop by sometime to volunteer with us!”
I bet that the guy who hears this is WAY more likely to share your organization and will actually seek out more information about your mission than if you just told him that your job title is Program Manager at X organization.
Are you interested in learning more about telling stories?
Check these out: