What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

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  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 4:08 PM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org





    One of the habits of highly effective people, according to Stephen Covey, is to begin with the end in mind. It is also one of the habits of highly effective organizations. Many would contend that the “end” of a nonprofit organization is accomplishing their mission and achieving their vision.


    It doesn’t matter what word you use: end, outcome, and intention, the concept is clear – know where you want to be and then work to arrive there. Notice beginning with the end is circular, not linear. Building a culture of planning within your organization will make you better for a multitude of reasons.  


    Here are the three strongest ones:


    1. You will be more adaptive.


    Knowing where you want to be, or what you want to be, is grounded in the ability to plan and predict. The power of a plan is not the plan, but rather in the planning – the power is in the middle. Highly effective organizations are not just working their missions or working towards the ends, they are working the middle. They are always in a state of planning – succession planning, board development planning, recruitment planning, financial planning, program planning. They continually identify where they are, where they want to go, and how they get there. This comprehensive approach allows organizations to avoid static conditions and adapt in real-time to maximize their effectiveness.


    2. You will be more resilient.


    Organizations in crisis often don’t see the connection between their lack of planning and their constant state of chaos. Being, or becoming, an organization with a culture of planning is a privilege. It means that an organization has protected the time necessary to plan, that resources are available to be planful, and that they have accommodated the brainspace required to think about their work beyond today. If an organization that is in a constant state of chaos (high board-turnover, high staff-turnover, financial stress, the real or perceived notion that there is no time to do or think about doing anything differently) does not intentionally build a culture that allows them to be planners, then they will always be unable to plan, predict, and identify cause and effect. But organizations that consider planning as nonnegotiable will see the chaos decrease – even in uncertain times.  Planning makes an organization resilient despite the circumstances.


    3. You will be more sustainable.


    When we enter this constant state of planning, we then enter a state of being that allows us to pivot and move in new directions when necessary. We must acknowledge that change is constant and necessary. Once we embrace that reality, we can protect the space necessary to respond to that change thoughtfully so that we can continue serving our mission. Planning allows us to act in spite of uncertainty. Planning allows us to be comfortable in not being able to plan for every possible situation and outcome. This ability to be prepared, aware, and responsive is what leads to sustainability. 


    There is a saying that you should be careful what you say after the phrase, “I am...” because your brain will manifest the words. The beginning and the end are always connected. 


    Does your organization need help building and nurturing a culture of planning? Reach out to have a conversation with us.  And in the meanwhile, let your brain get to work manifesting this


    I am adaptive. I am resilient. I am sustainable. I am a planner.





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  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:17 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)



    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager

    Jessica@nonprofnetwork.org





    It happens pretty often. An employee is suddenly absent (either temporarily or permanently) while the rest of the staff scrambles to figure out processes that the absent employee used. Documenting those processes can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is important to take it one process at a time


    As I prepare to go on maternity leave, I have been documenting processes regularly used at Nonprofit Network to ensure a smooth transition while I'm gone.  I started by first making of list of all the processes that I carry out on a regular basis. Then I focused on recording the steps of one process per day. By working on a single process at a time, I can be thorough in detailing each step.




    5 Tips to Build a Process Anyone Can Use


    1)  Store processes in an accessible, easy to find spot. 

    Use a storage method that works best for your office. Consider using a wiki page or collaborative application, such as Office365, Google Docs, or Quip.


    2)  Use a standard format with each process. 

    Format the processes in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Title each process, use an easy-to-read font, and use headings where appropriate. Don’t write all processes on one long document. Separate each process on its own document.


    3)  Be concise, but clear. 

    Don’t write too much that it prevents someone from wanting to read the process. At the same time, provide enough information for one to understand the process. Include definitions, use bullet points, insert screenshots, and/or utilize flowcharts. The key is to make it as simple and clear as possible.


    4)  Make editing easier by keeping processes organized.

    Date and initial each process every time it is edited, and avoid using names of employees (use position titles instead), and build a table of contents.


    5)  Test your processes. 

    It’s possible something was left out or is unclear. Make sure someone proofreads or edits your processes. After a process has been tested once, continue to test it quarterly or yearly. Make changes if necessary.




    It can be difficult to figure out how to carry out another person’s job responsibilities without some type of documentation. It's one of the most important steps that anyone can do and everyone should do.  It's absolutely critical to succession planning. 


    Don’t be a scrambler – make sure office processes are well documented.


    Documenting office processes and procedures not only prevents others from having to reinventing the wheel, but it also promotes consistency and efficiency. As I have been documenting processes, I’ve noticed areas where improvements can be made. Documentation allows the opportunity to improve an organization and have it run more efficiently. 


    Give us a call at 517-796-4750 if you want to have a conversation about how you can manage this process




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  • Thursday, May 04, 2017 9:00 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



    Katena Cain

    Nonprofit Management Consultant

    Katena@nonprofnetwork.org





    Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger and more enriching for all of its members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve. In a community as culturally diverse as Jackson, organizations that value diversity – racial and ethnic diversity, as well as diversity in age, ability, thought, planning processes, and recruitment strategies – are stronger.

    Research suggests that employees who view their organization as being supportive of diversity and inclusion also tend to have higher levels of engagement. Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, be an advocate of the organization, its products and services, and contribute positively to the bottom line business success.

    So, what does an organization look like when it has embraced diversity, inclusion and equity?

    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity – In a diverse, inclusive and equitable organization, visible and invisible heterogeneity is present throughout all departments and at all levels of responsibility.
    • There are Equitable Systems of Recognition & Reward – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization establishes systems to recognize, acknowledge and reward the diverse contributions and achievements of employees at all levels of responsibility.
    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Continuous Learning – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization acknowledges that every employee is a learner and teacher.
    • There are Collaborative Conflict Resolution Processes – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization values and utilizes progressive conflict resolution procedures that empower employees at all levels to work collaboratively to solve problems.
    • There is a Demonstrated Commitment to Community Relationships – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization forges constructive alliances with the community to expand outreach to diverse communities, widen opportunity, enhance access or promote understanding to overcome prejudice and bias.

    Capacity builders, like Nonprofit Network, can contribute to organizations who desire to be more diverse and inclusive, by helping them develop a vision for inclusivity, and provide concrete tools, practices and processes that eliminate barriers to success. Nonprofit Network is responsible for ensuring that all nonprofit organizations in Michigan have affordable access to best practices that help them to be efficient and effective. Diversity and inclusion is not a luxury, but an important foundation for organizations – making it possible to serve all communities, bridge across differences, and ultimately improve the social, health and educational outcomes of our community.

    Building an Inclusive Team


    Having a diverse candidate pool to hire from is primary and critical – you can’t become a diverse organization if you don’t have diverse applicants.



    Here are some tips:
    1. Posting your position in the same places will get you the same candidates.  Positions should be posted and advertised in a wide variety of places, including community boards, cultural community groups, local ethnic and community newsletters, and associations and organizations that serve ethnic communities.  Your efforts should extend beyond the standard.  Also, does your front line position REALLY need someone with a Master’s Degree? Make sure that you are hiring for attitude and training for skill.

    2. Build relationships with cultural groups and organizations that work with diverse communities. Contact local agencies that serve diverse populations. Ask these organizations to help distribute your job posting.
    3. Promote your organization as a viable place to work. Individuals may not be considering a nonprofit as a possible employer. Nonprofit employment can sometimes be perceived as insecure. Promote the strength of your nonprofit, the benefits you provide and communicate your value as an “employer of choice”.
    4. Walk the walk. Do the pictures on your promotional materials, website and social media illustrate your organization values diversity? Do your paid holidays value diversity? Do your HR policies value diversity? Does your organization value communication and respect?

    Changing your recruitment habits may improve the candidates you attract. Don’t forget to provide additional training around diversity and inclusion – retention is critical! If you haven’t been successful in retaining a diverse workforce, you may need to look at your inclusion policies and practices.



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  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:57 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)




    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    The success of delegation rises and falls on the quality of how the task is delegated by you. Do it well, and you'll reap the harvest of a stronger team, increased organizational production and some extra hours for you. On the other hand, poorly-executed delegation can reduce organizational output, weaken the team and be a real time drag for everyone.  So how can you guarantee the success of delegation


    Here are 10 simple steps to get you there.




    10 Steps to Guarantee Successful Delegation


    1.   Define the task


    2.   Select the appropriate person


    3.   Explain the reasons for delegation


    4.   Assess person’s ability and training needs


    5.   State required results


    6.   Consider the resources required 


    7.   Outline boundaries and authority


    8.   Agree on deadlines


    9.   Support and communicate.


    10. Provide feedback on results

     


    If you avoid delegating due to the aggravation from past results, try again following these steps. The more self-aware you are and the more you practice delegating, the better you will become. Like many other leadership skills, it is a front-loaded activity, and the rewards increase as your proficiency improves and as the task-takers become better at receiving the delegated tasks.


    If you choose to skip a step, understand it may impact outcomes. Over time and as relationships deepen, you and the new task owner may be able to have clarity on these items without explicitly covering each one. But if the relationship is not yet that deep, or if past experience has not been satisfactory, I suggest you include each element.


    Successful delegation requires that you and your delegate have the same understanding of the end result that is being sought, but we tarnish good delegation when we attempt to tell the person how to do it. Further, if they are uncertain about the authority they have over the process, their performance can suffer. Empowering others on your team (think: other board members, other staff members) is accomplished by sharing expectations, clarifying needed results and extending trust. 


    Nothing strengthens a team member like extending trust to them.




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  • Wednesday, April 05, 2017 9:39 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org




    Should you jump in or stay in the bleachers?


    I want to talk about how, when, and why the leadership of your nonprofit may choose to advocate in this contentious political climate.


    As an executive director myself, I have been thinking long and hard about how to lead and represent the organization I serve when it comes to navigating advocacy and taking stances on legislative and social issues. 


    During a strategic planning session last summer, Nonprofit Network's board had determined that in order to be sustainable, we must be relevant. Therefore, we actively seek to join tables where the conversation is about helping people, organizations, and communities to think differently about their infrastructure—to think differently about their systems and their processes. If we are that good—good enough to be invited to those tables—we will be a sustainable organization.


    Our ultimate goal is to influence community solutions through our programming and services using best practices and research.


    Your organization might have a similar goal, to influence the decisions of your clients and your community using your mission.


    Last summer, this goal had felt pretty safe. Yes, it is a big, hairy, audacious goal, but safe enough. Recent events at local, state, and national levels have caused our board to revisit this word: influence. We recently checked in with each other and asked “Did we really mean it – and if we did, what now?”


    Our official diversity and inclusion statement reads as follows: Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion. We engage all people with dignity and respect. We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners.


    But in today’s divided and often cruel political climate, the work around diversity can create division, inclusion can create exclusion, and seeking equity for all somehow means someone else loses. Tensions are high, to say the least.


    Nonprofit Network strongly believes in the practice of having policies and procedures in place before you need them. So if we know that if we are going to be relevant and influence community solutions, we first need to make some decisions about when, why, and how we decide to speak up.


    We drafted a series of questions to guide that decision and I am sharing it with you here. Share this with your board and staff so you can discuss how to customize it to fit your organization.


    1)   Is there a need?

    • What is the scope and size of the issue? 
    • Are we advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves?
    • Are we speaking for those whose voices are not being heard?
    • Are we speaking for those that can’t “afford” to speak up?
    If the answer to the above is yes, then proceed to the next question.


    2)   Is it appropriate and relevant to the organization?

    • Does the topic fit our mission and values?
    • Is it appropriate for us to add our voice?
    • Are we opposing? Supporting? Educating?
    If the answer to the above is yes, then proceed to the next question.



    3)   What are the risks?

    • Can the organization be hurt by taking a public stance? 
    • If we can be hurt, can we sustain the risk?
    • Is any potential risk direct or indirect? (would we know if a donor stopped giving because we added our voice?)
    If the risks are minimal or can be sustained, then proceed to the next question.


    4)   How will we influence?

    • Programming, curriculum, best practices
    • Education
    • Leadership (modeling best practices, setting an example)
    • Getting involved
    • Blogging, using our social media
    • Contributing resources
    • Advocacy – taking a position and influencing those with power to take a direction
    • Ask our members/stakeholders/donors, staff, board and volunteers to act




    You might see Nonprofit Network jumping in the conversations that affect the nonprofit ecosystem. Know that when you see us at the table and hear our voice, we have run the decision through the questions above. These four questions will allow us to act with intention and proceed with a full understanding of our role and the potential results of our decision to influence.


    Remember! Advocacy is not political activity. 501(c)3 nonprofits cannot endorse political candidates or contribute to political campaigns. This rule is part of the Johnson Amendment, and it helps nonprofits maintain their integrity as nonpartisan entities. You can however, support legislative bills, mileages, and advocate for your mission.  


    On that note, I compel you to call your senator and urge them not to repeal the Johnson Amendment! Our friends at Michigan Nonprofit Association have recently commented on the why the Johnson Amendment is so important to the nonprofit sector, and I stand by their statement. Read it and call your representative today!



    Want to share this with your organization and build your own decision tree?  Email Info@nonprofnetwork.org to let us know and we'll send you an electronic copy of the four questions to share with your stakeholders. No strings attached.






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  • Wednesday, March 29, 2017 12:55 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)



    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager





    Many people can relate to sitting in an unproductive meeting.  However, meetings do not have to be a waste of time. If accurate minutes are kept and clear-cut action steps are identified, then hours spent in a meeting can lead to a productive outcome. 


    Taking quality minutes at a meeting is very important. High-quality minutes are powerful tools that you can leverage to do the following

    • Help refresh memories from the last meeting
    • Offer background information for those that could not attend the meeting
    • Summarize decisions made
    • Identify goals and point out clear action steps
    • Provide organization and structure
    • Act as a historical record and may offer legal protection


    Minutes play a crucial part of a meeting. Here are key components that should always be part of your minutes:


    1)  Agenda

    Before the meeting, an agenda should be sent to all those involved in the meeting.  Having an agenda before the meeting not only helps keep the meeting on track, but also makes it easier for the note taker to follow along and take accurate minutes. The best part is that meeting minutes can be taken right into the agenda.


    2)  Type of Meeting, Date, Start and End Time

    The heading of the minutes should indicate the type of meeting being held (for example:  Board Meeting, Finance Committee Meeting, etc.). The minutes should also contain the date the meeting took place, the time the meeting started, and the time the meeting ended.


    3)  Attendees/Excused

    Everyone that attended the meeting and those that were excused/absent should be listed in the minutes.


    4)  Key Discussion Points

    Important parts of the conversation during the meeting should be well documented.


    5)  Action Items

    To-dos or outcomes from the conversation should be clearly outlined.


    6)  Motions/Approvals

    When voting takes place, it is important to keep a record of who motioned, seconded the motion, and if the vote was approved or not approved by the group. 


    7)  Time/Date/Location of Next Meeting (if reoccurring or if decided during the meeting)

    This allows everyone to know when the next meeting will take place.



    After meeting minutes are proofread and finalized, the note-taker should make sure the minutes are signed by the appropriate person (such as the secretary of the board) if necessary. Once finalized, the minutes should be sent to everyone that attended the meeting as soon as possible.


    Well-documented meeting minutes can help turn discussion into decisions, and decisions into results. At your next meeting, make sure quality meeting minutes are keptensure that hours spent in discussion can lead to a positive outcome.  



    Do you want to see a sample of meeting minutes that demonstrate the suggestions above?  Email Info@nonprofnetwork.org to let us know you're interested and we'll share a resource with you! No strings attached.





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  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 11:46 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)




    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    This is the second installment of a two-part series.  Read Part 1 here.



    I ended last week's blog post with the suggestion that if the meeting room is “safe” enough, the conversation can be about almost any topic.  As you may recall, we had been addressing our human reaction to go silent on the key conversations that can advance our organizations.  In these crucial conversations, you'll often find that stakes are high, emotions are strong, and opinions conflict.  Examples include staff performance issues, board member interactions and even charting a course for the organization to follow.


    To enjoy the benefits of a safe space space, one must be aware of two conditions that must be maintained throughout the conversation: Mutual Purpose and Mutual Respect.  A safe room or meeting is one in which it is clearly confirmed that those in the room have a mutual purpose and that we all seek to maintain a mutual respect during the conversation.  


    In the event that one of these conditions is put at risk, a technique the authors of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (Patterson et al) shares is to step out of the current discussion content and directly address the condition that is at risk.  Instead of forging ahead on the conversation (despite high stakes, opposing opinions, and strong emotions) the authors suggest transitioning back to the change that took place in either Mutual Purpose or Mutual  Respect. Bringing the conversation back to our Mutual Purpose or reminding participants that we want to maintain a Mutual Respect during this conversation is key to a successful conversation.  


    Once that condition is clarified, it is possible to step back into the crucial conversation.  


    As you and your group’s skills in this area improve, your ability to read the room for an infringement on these two conditions will also improve.  Identifying the risk sooner rather than later is preferred.  An inappropriate comment or even a misunderstanding of the intent of a comment can significantly reduce the perceived safety of a conversation.  Catching a conversation before it becomes unsafe can assist you in maintaining the environment where productive discussions take place.


    Take note: Mutual Purpose is not a technique. You truly need to find that purpose and persuade the others it is important to you.


    Mutual Respect is a condition of continued conversation.  When one of the group perceives disrespect, step out of the crucial conversation and address it.  The entire area of respect is one of which you should be keenly aware.  While the content of the conversation may be the culprit that caused disrespect, more likely it was the perceived intent of the comment that caused disrespect.  Keep your radar at attention for misunderstood intent.  Once a person feels disrespected, it is common for them to respond in-kind.  Then the entire conversation can reduce to all parties fighting for respect.  As a leader, you must break the cycle of fighting for respect and re-establish true Mutual Respect in the room in order for that crucial conversation to take place.


    Undoubtedly, learning to create safe meetings for really important conversations takes a significant amount of effort.  However, the results of those conversations are what "unstick" organizations, allowing them to reach their full potential.  



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  • Wednesday, March 15, 2017 9:52 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    If you're feeling “stuck" and wondering why your organization isn't progressing as well as you'd like, the cause is likely the absence of a hard conversation that has not taken place.


    When I speak of hard conversations, I am talking about those in which stakes are high, emotions are strong, and opinions conflict. When we are faced with these difficult or crucial conversations (as suggested by Kerry Patterson and colleagues in their book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High), our typical human response is either silence or violence. Said another way, we avoid the conversation all together or we get into an argument. The authors make a sound case for our limited options when these hard conversations arise. We can continue to avoid them (with all the consequences), address them poorly (with all the consequences) or learn the skills to have beneficial hard conversations. Learning to have crucial conversations in a beneficial manner moves barriers out of the way, both personally and organizationally, and sets a tone for growth opportunities.


    Some samples of crucial conversations that meet all three of the above characteristics include

    • Staff performance evaluations
    • Executive director evaluations
    • Board interactions
    • Budget discussions
    • Initiating program changes
    • Charting a course for the organization to follow. 
    Avoiding these issues (you know you do sometimes) eventually leads to complications. Resorting to “violence” or even public crankiness in these issues creates more division and stalled actions. Which is probably why we so often just avoid the topics altogether.


    But addressing these situations skillfully results in clear communication, improved performance among board and staff, and stronger relationshipsall of which clear the way for tackling the mission we all signed on to address in the first place. In fact, we can actually schedule on our board calendar the date on which we will have a crucial conversation. Scheduling crucial conversations like staff evaluations, budgetary discussions, or organizational direction is a tool to assist us in keeping ourselves accountable.


    Mastering crucial conversations starts with the person we have the most control over: our self. 


    Let's go into these conversations being mindful of our intent and remaining self-aware of one another's behaviorsboth of these awareness pieces are key to avoiding missteps.


    In our personal and professional careers, we all can identify topics we avoid or shy away from, but creating a safe meeting empowers us to address all pertinent issues, regardless of the topic. According to Patterson and Colleagues, a totally safe room permits conversations on almost any topic. So you're ready to take that first step and have a crucial conversation?  Then the task at hand is creating a safe room. We’ll explore this topic in more detail in part two of this blog post next week.


    If you can’t wait till then, give me a call at 517-796-4750. 



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  • Wednesday, March 08, 2017 12:46 PM | Jessica Chipman (Administrator)

     


    Jessica Chipman

    Office Manager

    Jessica@nonprofnetwork.org


    Distractions are everywhere…especially in an office setting. From the sounds of phones ringing and copy machines printing to the sun shining brightly through your office window…sometimes it can be difficult to stay focused at work. 


    So what can you do to remain on task and avoid distractions?  



    Seven Tips to Stay Focused at Work:



    1.       Clean your desk. If your desk is cluttered, take a few minutes to put things away and organize it.  This will give you the space to focus on the task at hand.



    2.       Dress professionally. Dressing in professional attire may help you stick to business.  Here’s an interesting article from Forbes that explains how alertness is affected by what you wear.



    3.       Plan ahead. Map out your next day before you leave work at the end of your shift.  When you arrive at work the following day, you will know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.



    4.       Keep your to-do list at hand. Place your to-do list right in front of you to provide a visual of exactly what you need to accomplish.  It may offer that extra push to stay on track so you can cross items off your list.


     
    5.       Put your cell phone away. Move your cell phone to a place that is out of sight.  This will prevent you from checking it every two minutes.  Only check your phone during your breaks or lunch hour.  



    6.       Take a break. To avoid burnout, take a five-minute walk outside or just take a few minutes to yourself.  A little break may help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next project.



    7.       Reward yourself. After achieving an important goal, reward yourself with a cup of coffee or five minutes of browsing the Internet.  Rewarding yourself may give you the motivation to get a jump start on your next project.


    It’s no secret that workplace distractions can hinder your productivity.  By using these tips, hopefully you can stay a little more focused and accomplish great achievements.  What are some methods you use to remain focused at work?



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  • Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:27 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Nonprofit Management Consultant

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org





    Did you know that humans are hard wired to relate to stories? Neuroscientists tell us that the brains of people listening to well-told stories fire on the same path as if they were experiencing the circumstance themselves. Likewise, if you and I are hearing the same story, our brains will fire in similar areas. There is quite a bit of science in people connecting with one another. Add to this that humankind has been sitting around ancient fires or watering holes relating guidance and requests verbally as stories for eons. (Interesting sources here and here.)


    Humans like stories.


    Stories have been ways to educate, inspire, and motivate for ages and today’s technological advances haven’t changed that one bit. In fact, we can now share stories so much faster with technology that our storytelling skills are needed more now than ever before. The great news is that storytelling is a skill that can be learned.


    I can think of many reasons a nonprofit organization would want to enhance its storytelling skills. A couple off the top of my head include:


    • Storytelling is about persuasion. Isn’t persuasion our reason for being? We want to persuade people to choose our cause. We want to persuade them that we are a priority for the use of their funds. We want to persuade them to invest their precious time being engaged with us.
    • Storytelling reinforces your data. Data about your cause can make your point and demonstrate you know what you are doing. Communicating that data in a story can assist you in connecting with the listener in ways that dumping raw facts on them just won’t.
    • Storytelling fights burnout. A good story can be a shot in the arm to reinvigorate your staff, board or even donors that may be experiencing some fatigue in the cause. It’s another way of reminding us “why” we do this.
    • Stories are repeatable. This simple fact makes them gold to a nonprofit organization. A repeatable story about your cause, your successes, your needs or your vision for the community is the tool to engage those people you haven’t met yet.


    In our nonprofit world there are at least five different categories of stories every organization would benefit from adding to their pool of stories. Give some consideration to stories you may have about:

    1. Founding. How your organization got its start…what motivated that effort?
    2. Focus. Stories can serve as a great way to get across exactly the cause you address
    3. Impact. Stories about how you make a difference
    4. People. It's about sharing real people experiences that real people have
    5. Strength. Stories can be a cool and very sociably acceptable way to toot your own horn on successes.

    Tips on becoming a better storyteller:


    • Keep it short. Long stories lose the listener
    • Keep it simple. Ultra-complex stories cause listener to mentally check out
    • Highlight people, not programs
    • Consider your audience. It’s YOUR story, but it won’t get heard if you misread your audience.
    • When you get to the end of the story, STOP. Continuing past the end, buries the point you wanted to make with the listener.
    • Practice your story telling by writing “mini-sagas.” These are stories with a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of an obstacle, written in exactly 50 words.


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