Your organization has no cute kids, puppies, or people that you regularly serve. But you keep hearing that you’re supposed to share those “mission moments” about real people to engage your community.

I Speak for the Trees

From Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

How does sharing powerful stories work for you?

While it may feel like you have little to no connection to the end user of your work as an advocacy, policy, environmental, trade center, association, or other umbrella organization … you do.

True Story
I recently had the honor of working for a few weeks with Katie, director of development, at ConnCAN. This is an amazing multi-million-dollar organization doing what it takes to improve education for all of Connecticut’s children.

When I first spoke with Katie she was unsure whether or not they had any “real” stories to tell about their educational sessions or legislation they work to pass each year.

Through our discussions, we uncovered that indeed their work affects teachers and students every day all across the state.
You Do Have Stories to Tell
The powerful mission-moment story I coached Katie on was about a young high-school senior named Ashley. This bright, young woman had noticed the teachers in her middle and high school didn’t look like she did. They didn’t represent nor did they understand the struggles and lives of the diverse campus of students.

Rather than getting angry or simply complaining, Ashley got to work. She searched online, talked to friends and family, and found out about a bill ConnCAN wanted to move through the state legislature. The bill requires schools to have more teachers that represent the diverse student population.

While she was nervous and unsure if she could be of help, Ashley did whatever was asked. A high-school student testifying on behalf of the bill? Yes. That bill indeed passed. Who has that kind of experience coming out of high school?

Ashley’s story is now shared regularly and inspires donors and others who are unsure how they can make a difference.

Where will you find your mission-moment stories?

Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Volunteers doing research for your organization
  • Recipients of your grants or educational programs
  • Attendees at your association events
  • Businesses that benefit from the partnerships or training delivered by you
  • The end recipient of the safe housing or other legislation your organization passed

3 Steps to Gather Stories When You Don’t Have Cute Kids, Puppies, or People You Serve

1. Remember that your work does affect real people.

2. Ask the question: Whose lives are different because of the work we do?

3. Talk to the people whose lives are different: volunteers, donors, business owners, others. Ask them open-ended questions about how their life is better because of something your organization made happen.


For help crafting your powerful, engaging story, put the story into the format you’ll find in my free Boring 2 Brilliant eBook.


This post originally appeared on NonprofitPro.com on August 11, 2017

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Subscribe to Fire Starters