Monday, November 24, 2008

Re-Igniting a Passion for the Mission – The Importance of Storytelling in this Season

It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet (although preparations for it are about to get into high gear around here) and I am tired of thinking, talking and writing about he economy and fundraising this season. So I am blogging today about a much more upbeat and important topic...Having a passion for the mission of your nonprofit.

This year especially when nonprofits are so concerned about the impact of the economy on their own economy the basic to get back to is not how to craft the perfect appeal letter but to make sure that you are doing everything to keep the passion for your mission alive. What you need to keep out there front and center is not how much you need the funds this year but rather how wonderful you are.

Passion for the mission is the unifying “glue” that keeps us together when we are struggling for scant resources. So if spirits are down and the flame isn’t burning as bright as it should around your nonprofit it may be time to re-ignite the passion for your mission with staff and board and others.

Our mission defines what we do, and it should also be a motivator to keep us going. A good way to bring attention to our mission is through storytelling. Consider storytelling rather than reminding people about the economy in your communication next month... you've already done that and they already know about it. Remember to reach out to all of your constituencies....Volunteers, Beneficiaries, Donors, Funders, Staff and Board. Center your communication around spreading passion for the mission. What to include:
•Personal stories - answering the question of “How it made a difference” or “What it enabled me to do.”
•What are your year-end events, how they may be personally involved and what is upcoming in the first quarter
•What are your results that increase the knowledge level of everyone – For example: Number who attended performances or classes but also what attendees appreciated. Be sure you address the qualitative results as well as the quantitative results

With your communication you should be building a relationship and understanding of what you do that goes beyond the numbers. People do not get passionate about numbers. They get passionate about how they can help real individuals and make a difference in their life.

The nonprofit whose Board I am Vice President of has an annual meeting as part of our by-laws where we elect officers and approve a budget. In the past year we have been especially focused on budgets and fundraising as we have had to make some tough decisions and adjustments. I offered that I thought we should take this time to re-focus on our mission this year. I will be facilitating an activity (There will be about 40 people attending) where at table groups, individuals will share their personal stories of why they have a passion for our mission and then it will be fed back to the whole group. I know some of the stories so I know it will be an inspirational exercise.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts about re-igniting a passion for the mission this year. Oh and...Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Marion Conway Consulting

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