You hear it everywhere: Tell stories to raise more money, engage your board, recruit more volunteers, raise awareness. Does sharing a story really have that power?


What is your organizational story?

Is there “one” organizational story that will magically stand out?

The reality is many different stories are regularly shared in your organization. You have categories of stories being told and re-told.

My work is about shifting the “type” of stories shared so your listeners, readers, and even the story teller shares stories that inspire others to do something.

You may have categories of stories that fit into this list.

Founding stories — Who and how you were founded.

Management or leadership stories — Good and bad managers, leaders.

Founder myths — Exaggerated accounts of why you were founded or how easy or difficult it was.

Hopeful stories — Client, donor, volunteer, board, and staff stories of something that is working or inspiring.

Fearful stories — “What if” stories that focus on scaring others into taking action.

Visionary stories — “What if” stories that focus on inspiring others to follow a vision of something better for when you have more money, people, awareness. . .

Scarcity stories — Stories that focus on what you don’t have enough of: money, time, space, people, awareness.

Money stories — Stories about what it takes to do your work and where you are today in raising those funds.

Hero/Shero stories — Inspiring stories about clients, staff, board, or others who have overcome something.

Villain stories — The conflict or reason your work is necessary: homelessness, pollution, apathy, illness, lack of access. . .

My definition of an organizational story combines two definitions:
Organization plus story equals Organizational StoryOrganization =  \ôrɡənəˈzāSH(ə)n\ An organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association

Story = \ ˈstȯr-ē \

  1. An account of incidents or events
  2. A fictional narrative shorter than a novel

We each have our own lens and point of view + the work, the people, the “lore” all filter into our awareness to create an organizational story.
Organizational Story defined

The common denominator of ALL organizational stories is they are memorable.

I take it a step further: Make them inspiring.
Make your Organizational Story inspiring
Using storytelling to build an engaged community and raise more money is done every day:

• What brands of clothes, cars, food, do you choose because of how they make you feel?

• What stories get told over and over again at family gatherings? Staff or board retreats?

• What do your clients, donors, and volunteers say about their experience with you?

It’s simple: Our job as fundraising and communication professionals is to ensure stories people tell about us are inspiring and memorable.
Here’s how this works:

My personal story: I grew up wanting to help people and I wanted to travel and see the world. I wanted to be governor of Minnesota or a flight attendant.

Mission of Ignited Fundraising: Bring ease and joy to fundraising for as many nonprofit organizations as possible, so they meet or exceed their goals.

The organizational story I share most often is about a little 5-year-old girl named Madison. I’m incredibly proud of how my work helped the organization.

But, I share the story to help people like you understand the value of my work: how can we use stories to cause action.

At the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference I’ll do a deeper dive into finding and crafting your organizational story. Stay tuned for how to download the slides and handouts from the session.

For coaching to find and craft your organizational story check this out.