Kathy Swayze

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on ways to get your board involved with your communications and marketing. Kathy Swayze, who recently led a storytelling webinar for us, shares some more ideas on getting your board (and staff members) to capture better stories for your organization. ~Kivi 

Guest Post by Kathy Swayze, Impact Communications

Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only one in your organization who is helping to find the great stories?  Do you wish all the staff, the board members and volunteers would get in the game and help capture stories?

It’s possible!  And you can start at your next staff meeting or board meeting.  Simply get on the agenda for a 5- or 15-minute segment of the meeting.  Then use the ideas below to inspire everyone in the meeting to capture better stories.

The 5-Minute Storytelling Spiel

Stories matter.  They help make our mission more memorable and show our supporters how their donors help real people.  But we’re all so busy, we rarely have time to go get them. But when we’re out in the world and mention where we work, people often tell us a story about how the organization helped them or someone they know.

EVERY TIME this happens, please hand the person your business card and say, “That’s a great story. Would you mind emailing me that story?”  If everyone does this, then the stories will start coming to us.

The 15-Minute Storytelling Shtick

If you have time to do something a bit more interactive. . . ask people to break into pairs to practice techniques for getting good stories.  Encourage them to pair with someone they don’t know as well. Then ask them to interview each other with the following questions:

  • How did you first learn about our organization and why did you decide to become involved?
  • Can you tell me about a memorable moment you’ve had in your work — perhaps a time when you even got a little choked up?
  • What would the world like like if our organization didn’t exist. Who cares?

Each person should interview the other person. When you come back together as a group, invite people to share any good stories that came out of it.  And maybe even ask them to email them to you.

Your stories are out there.  Go find them!

Kathy Swayze, CFRE, is Impact Communication’s founder and president.  She is a past-president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals/DC, the co-chair of the education track for the 2012 Bridge to Integrated Fundraising Conference, serves on the board of the Potomac Crescent Waldorf School and teaches Sunday school at Unity of Washington.  She lives in (and is constantly fixing up) her 90-year-old house in Northwest Washington.