The (Non)-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World

This is more quick hits than a real review. I opened The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World on my Kindle yesterday and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. It’s by @DanPortnoy and it’s about why organizations MUST get their stories right. 

Portnoy addresses non-profits who struggle with their version of marketing (fundraising), but you can tailor the lessons to personal projects, biz dev, software projects, or documentation. It’s full of nuts and bolts practices (consulting in a book, really) for defining and presenting your story, but the WHY is what really got me.

Here’s a few quotes that jumped out at me:

We’re missing an opportunity to engage our workplace and create evangelists for our cause. Storytelling is crucial to survival.

Right now, think about organizations that you like, the ones that are compelling. Who is telling great stories? Not just good ones, but great ones. That organization that consistently can do no wrong. They put information out about what they’re doing, who they are, and who they’re helping. The response is consistently off the charts. Whether their website is getting lots of traffic, or their Facebook fan page is overflowing with comments, or their YouTube views are rocketing to the atmosphere, they are set up to literally change the world.

Those of you who follow @rjacquez you know he talks about this constantly. Probably more constantly than I talk about baseball.

Here’s a couple more:

If we’re going to communicate this story in the digital age, we need to be more concise. “Can you tell me what you do in one sentence?” 

That first one really hits me with things like traditional CBTs or the transition to #mlearning. If you’re a technical communicator, you might not have your audience for more than one sentence. That’s equally true if you’re writing a resume, selling an initiative to your boss, or marketing your product.

Organizations that use the digital space to mirror the reality of their day-to-day have the easiest time in the digital space. Why? Because they aren’t creating extra work for themselves.

Last item here. This one makes me think of all the social networking features in SharePoint 2010. My organization is moving to that, and they want use to collaborate with our expertise. Knowledge management through crowd-sourcing. To succeed, I think we’ll have to learn to be completely transparent (and intentional about sharing) in that corporate space. Otherwise it’s going to flop miserably.

[edited for clarity]

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