Why you should tell a story about failing.

Published on October 7, 2019

Sue Kindred

SK Consulting
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These days most everyone in the nonprofit sector knows that storytelling is the very best way to engage your current and prospective donors and your volunteers. We spend time listening and gathering stories, searching for that one, best, story that showcases our agency in the best possible “meeting the mission” moment. So, why in the world would you ever consider telling a story about a time when you were unable to meet the mission? When, despite your best efforts, you were unsuccessful?

Well, the reason is pretty clear when you think about it. Donors and volunteers give their money and time because of the need you meet – not the exact way you meet that need. If all your stories are rosy and show how wonderful your nonprofit is at meeting its mission, it sparks the question, “Why do you need me if you’re so successful in what you do?” We need to give our supporters a place to feel needed and our stories are a great place to help make that happen.

There’s another reason to tell a story that showcases how sometimes things don’t go as planned. Your donors are more and more savvy about who gets their money and they are begging for authenticity. They want transparency and to connect with you human to human. They want to see – through a great story – that their help is vital to your meeting the mission and serving the clients.

If the only stories you are telling are those stories where you are a superhero and your client is transformed, you’re not being authentic because we ALL struggle from time to time. None of us hit the mark ALL the time. You ARE superheroes for the work you do but you absolutely need to leave room for your supporters to be superheroes too. And, as your agency’s best advocate, you KNOW that the need is still great, the work you do is powerful, and that there is always more to do. Let your donors see that story.

Visit The Story Corner with Sue for more blogs and downloads to help you with sharing stories.


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