Telling a Better Story

On May 19, national nonprofit expert Joan Garry worked with over 70 greater Park City nonprofit board members, donors, volunteers, and staff to help them get better at telling their stories. Here are some practical tidbits from her terrific session.

First, the basic equation: Nonprofit Ambassador + Compelling Story = New Stakeholder. And that’s important: every conversation you have about an organization you care about is an opportunity to get someone new involved.

When someone asks, “What does your organization do?”, don’t answer that question – you’ll talk too much about what the organization does, rather than why. Instead, pretend they said, “Tell me about your organization, why it matters, and why it matters to you.”

Some “do’s” and “don’ts” for an elevator pitch, when you just have a minute or two of someone’s time:

Don’t: Assume they know anything about the nonprofit’s work; list things (they get forgotten before you’re done reciting them); focus on a vision so big the listener can’t relate.

Do: Bring the organization to life by talking about the people it impacts; ask an engaging question that you can then answer; show your own passion and enthusiasm.

If you have more than a couple of minutes of someone’s time: ask the person about themselves; tailor your story to connect what your organization does to that person’s interests; talk about the good work that’s been done and the ongoing need.

Remember that your purpose is to invite the person to become engaged, to be involved. What can you suggest as a first step: Attend an event? Come to one volunteer activity? Sign up for e-newsletters?

Bring your passion, the “why” of the organization, stories about its real impact, a genuine interest in the person you’re talking with – and you’ll be well on your way to having a new friend working arm-in-arm with you to create benefits for the whole community.

For more on Joan’s approach to better storytelling, check out her blog post about how to give an elevator pitch, follow her on Facebook, and sign up for her blog on the home page of her website.

Our deep thanks to Joan for sharing her time and wisdom with us, to the participants for diving in so fully, and to the Treasure Mountain Inn for generously hosting the event.

Joan Garry
“What’s Your Story?” workshop with Joan Garry at the Treasure Mountain Inn

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