I presented the Thursday night keynote at the City of Jacksonville’s Board Development and Training Program last week (this North Carolina city requires nonprofit grantees to send their board members to free professional development training – a brilliant idea!).  My topic was the importance of storytelling, and how as board members, they needed to help their nonprofits tell their real stories.

To illustrate one of my points, I played this video and asked the people in the room to pay close attention to what the Rake and Bake volunteers said about their participation.

(If you don’t see the video player, watch it here).

The volunteers talk about family holiday traditions, team building, and looking out for each other. That’s what Rake and Bake is really all about, not raking leaves.

I suggested that all of those board members in the room stop talking about their lists of programs and services — their “raking leaves.” Instead, they need to go listen to their supporters and find out what motivates them to participate, the real reasons they are there. Then they can build the stories they tell about their nonprofits around those qualities.

Is your nonprofit too focused on raking leaves, and missing the real reasons why people care?