So, What's Your Story?
Written by: Hannah Hassan, QC Family Tree Resident Artist and Storyteller
Social Enterprise Resource Bank - May 7, 2019
Stories are shared in many different ways and for many different purposes. They can be used to create empathy and understanding, resolve conflict, grow leaders, and more. Stories--when used in the business space-- can help with contributing to the growth and expansion of a business. This is true for traditional businesses, and also true for nonprofit organizations. When nonprofit organizations utilize the art of the shared story, they are investing in the success and longevity of their business. There are many ways that stories can help with growing and improving organizations, but the two most important ways are in sharing the story of the organization and the story of the people affiliated with the organization. If nonprofits can get these two correct, they can ensure the success and stability of their business.
Stories of the Organization:
The non-profit organizations, charities, community, and religious groups that are wildly successful at doing their job enjoy that success because they are so deeply rooted in their mission and vision, and they understand that their story is at the root of all that they do. These organizations are mission-driven, which really just means that they comprehend and can articulate all facets of their organizational story. These organizations have worked hard to build a mission and vision that is attached to why the organization was formed, how it operates, and the wins and losses that it has experienced along the way. They understand that stories are living, breathing mechanisms, and they update their organizational story when they experience change and when milestones happen. In addition to this, these organizations understand that the people who support them are also a part of their big story. Everyone affiliated with them; from the board to employees, to volunteers and clients understand-- with conviction and purpose--that their own unique story is connected to the success of that organization.
Stories for Staff and Board Development:
Nonprofit organizations can truly invest in their employees when they invest in their employee’s stories. It is imperative that every member of an organization's staff and board have a personal story that relates directly to why they have chosen to affiliate themselves with this organization. Employees and board members who understand how their personal story relates to the story of the organization are able to work from a place of purpose and possibility. They are able to see themselves within the mission and vision of their organization. They are personally aligned with the purpose of the organization, and they will work hard to ensure that the organization is successful.
Unfortunately, some nonprofits miss the mark with their storytelling. If organizations desire to take their storytelling from good to great, they must keep a few things in mind. Great stories are full and round. They leave the person experiencing them feeling moved and hopefully, feeling called to action. Many organizations miss the point that the basics of what we know about telling our stories, we learned in grade school. Stories shouldn't be over complicated. They can be simple and powerful when it is ensured that they have a beginning, middle, and end. Stories answer the questions of who, what, when, where, how, and why. They provide important details, but they don’t give information that isn’t needed or unnecessary. Stories that follow a succinct timeline and keep the reader engaged through small, important details can take a nonprofit to the next level.
Stories can be used for development, connection, understanding, and many different reasons. The universal truth that connects them to the nonprofit world is that when they are shared in the right way--they can advance the mission of an organization, they can ensure that bridges are built, and ultimately, they can change the world.
Hannah Hasan is QC Family Tree's Resident Artist and Storyteller. She is a writer, speaker, poet, performer and Master Class leader who has witnessed firsthand how stories can build bridges, create connection and strengthen organizational impact. In her blog, Hannah writes about the importance and purpose of organizational storytelling. To learn more about Hannah's Storytelling Work, check out her Epoch Tribe initiative at http://bestchickenever.com/
The NBA incubates new ministries, supporting social entrepreneurs of faith who are serving their communities in a variety of innovative ways and empowering these Disciples-led health and social service projects to focus on growth, impact, and sustainability. Learn more at nbacares.org/incubate