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Reaching Stakeholders through Storytelling

July 2020

What story do you see in this photo? I see a little girl who appears to be safe, happy, and healthy? I think to myself, "what services may have been rendered by a nonprofit organization that produced such a serene outcome?" Was it the work of a children's hospital, domestic violence shelter, or perhaps a food bank? A picture can be a powerful storyteller but so can your organization's board members.

I never knew the foundation of reporting news was telling a story. I thought it was simply communicating the who, what, when and where facts. I am working with a client in the news industry in which a component of their mission is to equip their members to be able to share “great stories”. Our daughter is majoring in Multimedia Journalism (or at least for the first semester, ha-ha). During our college visit several months ago, a professor who gave us a tour of the department of Communication Arts described journalism at its root, as being about “telling a story”. When I watch investigative news shows I certainly hear the storytelling. It is part of the drama, suspense, and anticipation created to engage the viewer and keep him watching the entire show while hanging onto every detail as the show stirs up feelings and causes a reaction. Inexplicably, I connected these thoughts to one of the roles of a nonprofit board member.

Do your board members know the success stories of your organization? Are they sharing these stories with the organization’s key stakeholders? I vividly remember the old United Way workplace fundraising campaigns when the center of their appeal was the stories they shared about people they helped. The stories always brought tears to my eyes and motivated me to give because of the good work they were doing.

Board members have a variety of roles and responsibilities when serving on a nonprofit board. One of these roles is as an advocate for the organization. For example, do your members share stories with government officials to inform them of the issues in your community and how your agency makes a difference? Do members talk about your organization with colleagues in their workplace, gym, or place of worship; at social events, or their children’s activities; in keynote addresses and speeches; or in articles for which they are interviewed? The current impact of social distancing notwithstanding, there are still ways and opportunities to share an organization’s success stories within your spheres of influence.

A nonprofit organization’s community impact results from the combination of acquiring and managing resources efficiently, achieving outcomes, and reaching the right stakeholders. What good have you done if your agency exists, but it does not reach any clients? What good can you do if your agency exists, but it does not reach donors who share a passion for the cause and can provide necessary cash and other resources? What good have you done if your agency exists, but it does not reach qualified individuals interested in working for the agency as an employee, volunteer, or board member?

Your organization will be best served when current board members know the agency’s success stories, and receive training on ways to accurately and confidently share the stories with appropriate stakeholders. These stories will increase the organization’s brand and reputation which can translate into a broader reach and hopefully garner additional resources.

copyright 2020 501c Impact!

Glenda Y. Hicks is a nonprofit consultant and trainer equipping organizations so the community wins!


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