Events and Beyond: Your Community Engagement Tool Box

Volunteer Victoria has the pleasure of hosting another unique learning event with Judy Lightwater later this month. “Events and Beyond” is a workshop that will help you to maximize your organizational capacity.

This event will focus on building outreach and public relations strategies with a strong return on investment.

The idea for this workshop was, in part, inspired by rich discussions that took place during one of our free Fundraising Q and A sessions hosted with local experts Danella Parks (Vancity) and Kari Frazer last fall.  These sessions are participatory learning events where non-profit staff, volunteers and board members can bring their most burning fundraising and outreach questions for discussion with local experts and event participants. The most common challenge addressed at this session was by far developing effective outreach and fundraising strategies within each organization’s limited resources. We also discovered that many of the smaller non-profits were investing large amounts of energy, time and capital on organizing special events that didn’t always provide the return they had hoped.

Our upcoming “Events and Beyond” workshop will help to address some of the pitfalls non-profits often face when developing strategies with limited resources. Facilitator Judy Lightwater will bring her extensive experience in fundraising and developing strategic, outcome based planning, to the important challenge of leveraging your organization’s unique strengths and capacity. Check out the workshop description for more information- and if you do sign up– you will be sure to find some mirth, as Judy is one of the wisest- and funniest- facilitators we have the pleasure of working with!

Here are the details:

Events and Beyond: Your Community Engagement Tool Box

Thursday, 28 February 2013 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

James Bay New Horizons
234 Menzies Street
Victoria, BC V8V 1N9

About the workshop:

Hosting events is a popular means for non-profits to engage their funders, members and the greater community.  In many cases the return on investment does not equal the often significant resources and hours required. This half-day workshop with Judy Lightwater will focus on tools and strategies that help to assess the effectiveness of your special events and explore alternative ways to reach your public relations and community engagement goals.

Participants will learn to:

•    Assess and analyze your event’s purpose and effectiveness

•    Determine effective ways of reaching your funders, members, and the greater community

•    Pre-plan public relations and other engagement tools to meet desired outcomes for the year: who are you trying to reach and how are you reaching them?

•    Explore alternative outreach tools, including local television and print media, social media, face-to-face contact with donors, direct mail and electronic communication

About the facilitator:

Judy Lightwater has over 25 years experience working with non-profits to enhance their fundraising and planning operations. She has assisted over 200 organizations in increasing and diversifying their revenues through utilizing strategic/outcome based planning and organizational assessments, as well as planned and major gift programs, mail and email appeals, and business sponsorships and donations.

About the venue/other details:

This workshop will be held at James Bay New Horizons at 234 Menzies St. Coffee and snacks will be offered. Street parking is available.

Register at: http://eventsandbeyond.eventbrite.ca/

Fee for Volunteer Victoria Members: $69.00


What I Learned as a Guinea Pig in Las Vegas

We’d like to welcome guest blogger Claire Doherty to the Volunteer Victoria blog! Claire is a board member with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS), and has worked and volunteered for a wide variety of non-profit organizations. She wrote this blog post about attending our recent Board Q&A Sessions in February, 2012.

Image credit to www.bootifultings.blogspot.ca

I am a newbie board member, having been elected to the board of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) in July 2011. I have learned a lot about my duties from my fellow VIRCS board members, but it is always helpful to know where to turn for further guidance.

My first board member education session was “Serving on a Board”, hosted by Volunteer Victoria’s Emerging Leaders’ Network. The presenter recommended that we attend “Boot Camp for Board Members”,  a two-day workshop that the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce historically offered in March each year.

In January, I discovered that “Boot Camp for Board Members” had been replaced, in part, by four Board Q&A Sessions hosted by Volunteer Victoria on Tuesday evenings in February. At $15 a piece, these sessions seemed like a good deal, and I was able to attend them after work. I managed to register for each of them just before the 15 spaces filled up.

Each session started with Lisa Mort-Putland, the Executive Director of Volunteer Victoria, welcoming us. She told us that we were guinea pigs, as Volunteer Victoria was just starting to experiment with providing board member education in this format. She also informed us that “Las Vegas Rules” applied; with respect to anything anyone shared about their own board: what was said in the room would stay in the room.

Having attended all four Board Q&A Sessions, I am a happy guinea pig and I consider the experiment a great success. I promise to abide by Vegas Rules and not tell anyone which presenter incorporated an Elvis impersonation into his session…just kidding, that never happened…although I might put it in the suggestion box for next year.

Here are some of the lessons I learned at each session…

Session #1: Strategic Planning and the Board’s Role in Monitoring Organizational Performance
Presenter: Patti Hunter, Principal, The Benchmark Group

– Four stages of strategic planning:
 1. Situation analysis: taking stock of the general characteristics and status of the organization, such as budget, number of staff, number of members and number of clients.
2. Environmental scan: includes an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
3. Planning priorities: setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, resourced and time-lined (SMART); and identifying strategies to achieve them.
4. Measurement and monitoring: build this  into board meeting agendas.

– Each board needs to choose whether to follow a program model or a policy model.

– The Policy Governance Model was developed by John Carver. If your board chooses to use it, adopt all of the principles. Do not try to pick and choose among them. See www.carvergovernance.com

– In the Carver policy model, board policies fit into one of four quadrants:
1. Board self-governance
2. Board relationship with executive director
3. Mission, vision, outcomes
4. Management constraints

Session #2: Avoiding the Dysfunctional Board
Presenter: Dr. Jim Ricks, a retired psychologist who has served on many non-profit boards

(My boyfriend did not understand why I was so keen to attend a session on dysfunctional boards on Valentine’s Day, but he did let me schedule our romantic dinner for later in the evening!)

– A functional board requires clarity of roles, expectations and boundaries.

– If something is wrong in your board, ask yourself how you are contributing to the problem.

– Sometimes asking intelligent questions about a problem is more helpful than giving direct advice about it.

– Most of this session involved discussing real-world examples of board challenges so Vegas Rules apply.

Session #3: The Structure, Governance, and Operation of Incorporated Societies – It Works Differently than Most Societies Think it Does
Presenter: Donald Golob, Principal, Donald Golob Consulting

– You need to understand the BC Society Act, which is available here: www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96433_01

-An incorporated society in BC is a non-profit organization registered with BC Registry Services.

– A Canadian charity is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, and is generally an incorporated society as well.

– Be aware of the following hierarchy:
1. BC Society Act and other laws, such as privacy, tax and labour laws.
2. Society’s constitution, which is like a birth certificate.
3. Society’s by-laws, which can only be changed at a general meeting of the members.
4. Society’s policies, which can be changed at a board meeting.

– It is important to know when to seek legal advice, which is available to non-profit organizations for free through organizations such as the Access Pro Bono Society of BC: www.accessprobono.ca/node/97

Session #4: Igniting your Entrepreneurial Mindset – Social Enterprises and More!
Presenters: Christy Anderson and Susan Low of Directis Consulting

– According to the Canadian Social Enterprise Guide, “social enterprises are businesses operated by non-profits with the dual purpose of generating income by selling a product or service in the marketplace and creating a social, environmental or cultural value.”

– There are three types of social enterprise models:
1. Employment development enterprises
2. Mission-based businesses
3. Ancillary or asset-based businesses

– Starting and maintaining social enterprises takes a lot of time and effort, and the legal framework surrounding them is evolving. Use the resources available to you, such as:
• www.enterprisingnonprofits.ca
• www.centreforsocialenterprise.com

Thanks again to Claire for writing this great recap of the Board Q&A Sessions! And don’t forget to mark your calendars for our full-day Board Governance 101 workshop coming up in Victoria on June 13, 2012. Registration for this event will be open soon at www.volunteervictoria.eventbrite.ca.


Telling Your Organization’s Story with Social Media

I was so pleased to recently coordinate a “Get Creative with Social Media” workshop for Volunteer Victoria, facilitated by Mandy Leith. It pleased me even more that I was able to attend the workshop with  my mother, Elaine Cougler. Her adoption of and enthusiasm for social media tools to further her writing career is proof positive that social media is being used and enjoyed by people of all ages. Here is her guest post about attending the workshop:

Last week, Mandy Leith, “media-savvy storyteller, documentary filmmaker, social media strategist, media educator, founder of www.opencinema.ca & community-building curious cat” led a social media workshop sponsored by Volunteer Victoria.  As she describes herself on Twitter (above), Mandy has broad experience and an eclectic mix of specialties.

About thirty people, representing various nonprofit and other organizations, attended the workshop.  Mandy showed us Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as mentioning other social media.  Her task was somewhat difficult because of the wide range of prior knowledge we attendees brought, but she soldiered on and participants seemed pleased with what they learned over the course of the day-long workshop.

Here are some of the exciting things I took away:

  1. Google Reader or the Pulse app (for iPad) can make social media much easier and faster to use.
  2. People on Twitter and Facebook are interested in your story and Mandy pointed out the five key elements every good story should have: passion, protagonist, antagonist, awareness and transformation.
  3. Facebook’s Page used to be called a Fan page, so they are the same thing.  Facebook, itself, changes constantly.
  4. Hashtags (#) in Twitter allow you to tag and search for specific groups or concepts.  Our workshop’s hashtag was #vvsm.
  5. Engagement strategies on social media sites are very important.  Among the things mentioned were giving 90% of the time and selling only 10% of the time.
  6. Users get 75% more functionality using Hootsuite than just using the separate apps (eg. Twitter, Facebook) themselves.  (I realized I really did need to conquer Hootsuite to save precious time.)

Mandy also mentioned a number of useful websites, both for agencies and people in general:

  1. www.cluetrain.com  (The Cluetrain Manifesto 1999 about the modern market place.)
  2. http://www.mediarising.ca/ (Mandy’s site)
  3. www.mashable.com (a site about all kinds of social media)
  4. www.getstoried.com  (teaching how to tell your story, a large focus of Mandy’s presentation)
  5. www.ehow.com  (has lots of life-oriented how-to information)

Keyword importance was one of Mandy’s important net strategies.  She encouraged us to make our blog post titles keyword-rich for Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  As a blog writer of two blogs, I especially appreciated that tip.

And, finally, she mentioned using Google or other analytics to gauge which strategies are bringing the most visitors to a website.  If no one visits our site then all of our social media strategies are for nothing.

What was the best part of Mandy Leith’s workshop for you?  Would you like Volunteer Victoria to run a social media workshop that is more advanced?  Please leave a comment and let us know.

Elaine Cougler
www.elainecougler.wordpress.com
www.facebook.com/ElaineCouglerAuthor
www.twitter.com/@ElaineCougler


Training for Coordinators of Volunteers

Since 2000, Volunteer Victoria has been offering an Overview of Volunteer Management course once a year for those involved (or wanting to be) in the administration of volunteers.  In the course, participants learn all the basics they need to know about managing volunteers and we’ve graduated over 250 individuals from this course over the past eleven years. 

We’re currently planning for our 2011 offering, and this year we have something else exciting to announce other than just the new course dates for 2011.  Our course has been accepted for credit towards the first course – “Working with Volunteers” – in Red River College’s Volunteer Management program.

Now coordinators of volunteers who take our Overview of Volunteer Management course can use it as a basis for going on for further study at this Manitoba-based college. Red River College’s Volunteer Management program can be completed entirely at a distance, a useful thing for those of us who live in British Columbia and don’t have access to other volunteer management-related certificate programs at our local colleges or universities.

This year, Volunteer Victoria’s Overview of Volunteer Management course will be held in-person over four non-consecutive Saturdays in October and November.  Save the following dates in your calendar, and let us know if you’d like to be contacted when registration is open to save your spot.  This year’s course will be held over October 15, October 22, November 5 and November 19.

To read a previous participant’s experience in this course, please click here.


Teaching Emerging Leaders to Speak with Confidence

Recently, Volunteer Victoria’s Emerging Leaders Network offered a five-week public speaking course to a small group of individuals made up of mostly ELN members.  It was taught by Ginger Brunner of Dynamic HR Solutions Inc. and received rave reviews from all participants.  In this blog post, guest blogger Yasmin Rampuri (ELN member and on staff at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria) shares her experience as a participant in this important skill-building course.

Along with 11 other brave souls, I’ve just completed a five-week “Speaking with Confidence” course which was offered through Volunteer Victoria’s Emerging Leaders Network.

Our excellent facilitator, Ginger Brunner, took us on quite a journey.  We went from trudging up to the front to address the class like there was a funeral dirge playing in the background to deciding we better keep meeting now that the course has ended so we can practice more!

How did we get here?  We began by jumping right in, each doing a short impromptu speech on the very first day–and to our credit, every single one of us managed this.

We had two speech assignments during the course:  the first one was 3-5 minutes and about ourselves; the second was 5-7 minutes about something that inspires us or that we wanted to inspire our audience about.  In these assignments we explored speech structure, how much and what kind of preparation works for us, and built delivery skills.  We learned what “crutch words” are and counted them.  In both instances as we listened to one another’s speaking assignments, so much was shared about who we are and our lives, we feel very connected to each other now!

We also had a good review of pointers in giving and receiving feedback, and supported each other through our learning by giving honest, kind and useful comments to one another as we each took our turns at the front of the room.

At the end of the course, Ginger asked us what our main takeaways were.  Here is an amalgamated list of the top ten things we learned:

1. Practice!  Breathe!  Embrace the pause!
2. Strategies for reducing crutch words, such as umm, y’know, like, etc.
3. Speech structure (opening, body, conclusion)
4. Less is more; don’t include too much info, or make up stuff to fill time
5. Look at audience; engage them by expressing your emotions
6. Feeling more confident and courageous; more comfortable with impromptu speaking
7. Knowing what kind of preparation and what amount works for each of us
8. Remembering the audience is on our side and wants us to succeed
9. Constructive feedback is valuable, and best given in “sandwich form”
10. Knowing the space, audience and other details before presenting

We were also encouraged to carry on in some way, by finding a Toastmasters group that suited us (there are many in the Greater Victoria area), or by continuing to meet.  It seems we’ve chosen the latter.  Having come through this adversity together – doing something that is at the top of most people’s list of scary things to do – we are a very bonded group now, and I look forward to seeing everyone again as we begin to practice together on our own.


Our Training Initiatives

Each year Volunteer Victoria works with a wide variety of trainers to deliver workshops for our community participants.  As the Manager of Training and Outreach for Volunteer Victoria, I’m pleased that we are able to offer a good cross-section of learning opportunities for our member agencies and others in our community who need to develop knowledge and skills in nonprofit management.

Just since September last year our staff or contracted facilitators have taught workshops in: fund development, media relations, social media, volunteer management, networking skills, succession planning, communication skills, story-telling, governance, public speaking, creating public displays, and emerging leadership. And we’re not even done the training year yet!  I’d like to send out a big thank you to all of the trainers who continue to work graciously for the needs of our community by partnering with Volunteer Victoria in this vein.

On that note, I am starting to plan for the 2011/2012 training “season” which, for Volunteer Victoria, begins in September. I’m in the midst of reviewing what our member agencies’ knowledge needs are and will then create – as I do every year – a training plan of workshops designed to address those needs.

Do you have stellar teaching skills and a great knowledge base in a topic that could benefit nonprofits?  Do you know someone who does?  Individuals who wish to work with us as contracted facilitators are invited to contact me at any point throughout the year to discuss your ideas and skills.  In addition, agencies are always invited to suggest topic ideas for me to consider as well. The more you keep telling us what it is that you need, the better we’ll be able to do just that.

Overview of Volunteer Management Course Graduates, Class of 2010

Overview of Volunteer Management Course Graduates, Class of 2010


Your Case for Support – a critical first step

The following is a guest blog post written by Kari Frazer, facilitator of our recent “Planning for Fundraising Success” workshop.  Kari holds the international Certified Fund Raising Executive designation and has been practicing fundraising, marketing and media relations for 24 years.

In my recent Planning for Fundraising Success workshop for Volunteer Victoria I think the pivotal subject was creating the The Case for Support. Many of the 30 people in the room had an ‘aha’ moment when we went to some of their websites and looked for evidence of their priority needs. Many websites had a Canada Helps button that asked for a donation, but very few described a priority need and engaged us in a human story.

The first step we can all make is to describe our priority needs on our websites. Your website is your most important tool for identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of your donors. The creation of all collateral, presentations, grant writing, direct mail and face to face asks can be duplicated from your website information. By sharing the stories and needs so accessibly and with such clarity, all volunteers and staff in the organization naturally become spokespeople and support your fundraising efforts.

Take a look at your website’s home page. Where is your story of an urgent need? Do you have ‘one click’ to a human story about a problem, the solution, the urgency and how the reader could be involved?

One exceptional site to model after is The Girl Effect. The website information and the series of videos cultivate us as well as encourage us to take action. The options to be involved include donating one-time, donating monthly, choosing what specifically to donate for, sharing the video/website with friends, volunteering, advocating, and finding out more information. This one site takes us through the entire The Fundraising Cycle from identifying ourselves and our friends to being cultivated, then solicited and thanked before being identified for another gift.

Our goal is for each priority need to have a human story that appeals to the reader’s heart, head and wallet. When your story describes the current problem or situation, what emotion does it stir? Pride? Fear? Inspiration? Hope? Grief?

You speak to the reader’s ‘head’ when you present a solution to the problem and a logic to why your organization has the history and resources to address the problem.

The reader is now ready to donate and knows that their contribution will make a difference because you have spoken to their ‘wallet’ by describing how each contribution – no matter if it is $25 or $2,500 – will make a difference. The reader is important to solving the problem. Through your organization and this particular project the reader can be a part of something bigger than themselves.

The reader has decided that this is an important need to donate to but what is the urgency? Why should we donate to your project when there are 1,100 charities in Greater Victoria inviting us to support them? Why you and why now? What is your call to action?

Evaluate your own website use the CharityChannels.ca evaluation form or  contact CharityChannels@gmail.com / www.CharityChannels.ca to show you the way.


How Emerging Leaders are Learning

Summer turned into fall, fall turned into winter, and now I realize that I haven’t written an update about the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) on this blog since late July last year. Wow, where did the time go? For me, time has really flown because I’ve been having fun coordinating numerous events for Victoria’s nonprofit emerging leaders this past half-year. In fact, we’ve had 28 separate ELN events since August!

Before I tell you more about what we’ve been up to, let me update you briefly on what the Network is and why it exists if you haven’t yet heard of it. The ELN was designed to give nonprofit professionals access to learning and networking opportunities to help them grow into top leadership positions in the near future. Now numbering 128 participants, it’s made up of individuals generally in their mid-20s to mid-40s. Most of the Network’s members are paid professionals working in our sector, and our common denominator is that we’re all interested in leading nonprofits. We have an online “home” and anyone who meets the criteria outlined above is welcome to join us for free.

Feedback about Network events has been extremely positive. It’s clear to me from what people have been saying – and the sheer number of people that have joined – that this is a Network that is extremely needed for this demographic. Emerging leaders are using the Network to meet each other, strengthen our connections, and learn what we need to know to lead nonprofits soon. For some members with more experience, “soon” is just around the corner, especially as more baby boomers decide to retire. For other members, gaining a top leadership position is a bit farther away – but they’re building excellent skills and connections in order to get themselves there faster.

So, you ask, what have we done since July last year? Well, we’ve started book discussion meetings and held social and networking events amongst ourselves and also with current leaders. We’ve met with current Executive Directors to learn from their experiences and we’ve attended workshops to learn how best to network and craft our “elevator speeches.” We’ve talked about self-care, building partnerships, governance, leadership and management, working with boards, and standing out from the crowd. Some of our members have even become students in an Emerging Leaders Series – a series of day-long workshops (five of them, held once a month for five months) that we created with Camosun College to get grounded in all the basics needed to become an Executive Director. We’ve had dinners, lunches, coffees and meetings. We’ve started making lasting connections and we’ve learned so much with all of the different things that we’ve done. And you know what?

We’ve got lots more planned for this year.

It’s a great time to say “thank you” to the community leaders who supported the Network last year with their time, actions and words. I’d like to also give kudos to the members themselves. In our Network, “leading from the middle” is not just a catch-phrase – it’s reality. The members have brainstormed and implemented great learning events to complement what my paid role of “Coordinator” has been able to do.

Some might ask, are we emerging leaders, or are we already leading?  The answer is – both!


I want to tell you a story…

We are pleased to share with you the following guest blog post written by the Executive Director of one of our member agencies, The Glenshiel.  Laurie Mueller recently attended our “Story Skills and Telling Tales” workshop facilitated by experienced storyteller Norma Cameron. 

I want to tell you a story about a Volunteer Victoria workshop I attended that was one of the highlights of my year.  Do you have time to read 600 words to learn about something wonderful? If so, please read on.

My mother was a great teller of tales.  I remember as a child listening to her make an ordinary situation turn into an exciting event as she retold it to friends and family.  I have always been fascinated by how well some people can capture our interest while others make me just want to nod off and go to sleep.   So it was with excitement that I signed up for the “Story Skills and Telling Tales” workshop.  A chance to learn how I can tell the stories of people that I work with in an exciting way just like my mom used to tell! It turns out that the group of about 30 had similar reasons for being there.

Our facilitator, Norma Cameron from The Narrative Company, skillfully taught us how to create a story that we could tell over and over again.  She started by teaching how to create the bare bones of our story.

A story needs a beginning, middle and an end.  Added to that we learned that there are components that make up the bones of the story and even if you tell the story many times but stick with the bones it doesn’t matter if some of the other details are added, forgotten or changed.  The story bones are created by following the story building guideline:

1. When and Where does your story start
2. Who
3. What happens
4. The So-What  (the climax)
5. The Now What

Before I went to the day-long workshop I did my homework.  I talked to some of the residents at The Glenshiel where I work.  I wanted to be able to tell their stories.  I asked them the questions to collect the data I would use to tell their stories.  Then I chose one that I would use.  Phew! Glad I did.  One of our first exercises of the day was to tell our tablemates in three minutes the bare bones of our stories. 

Norma took us through the theory, gave us some resources to pick up. I want to be sure to read “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink and I want to go back onto the TED website and listen to the talk that Ken Robinson gives about The Demise of Education.  I also want to download some of the  Ira Glass podcasts from iTunes. 

After lunch we visualized our story.  We closed our eyes and let Norma lead us into a space in which we could view our story.  I’m not a visual person (or so I thought) but I was seeing my story right from the beginning.  It really helped to embed the story into my mind and allowed me to relax later when I was retelling it.  That was a great exercise for those of us who are right brained.  And then into the left brain we marched.  We drew a chart!  Three columns if you please, labeled Where, Who, What Happens.  We took three parts of our story and mapped it out in our chart.  The next step is to draw pictures and story board the sequence. 

We did voice exercises. Singers do voice exercises so why shouldn’t story tellers do the same?  I just can’t imagine what my staff will think when they hear me singing “do, re, mi, re, do” and  “Meow, Meow, Meow” in my office just before I give a potential resident a tour and tell them our stories! 

And then it was the end of the day and we were telling our stories.  Wow! What a day!

Laurie Mueller, M.Ed is the Executive Director of The Glenshiel, a seniors heritage residence in downtown Victoria. She also has written ebooks and blogs. Another place that Laurie tells stories is on The Glenshiel Facebook page and she invites you to visit it.


Telling Your Organization’s Story

We recently held a very successful  “Story Skills and Telling Tales” day-long workshop, facilitated by Victoria-based storyteller Norma Cameron.  In this post, Norma herself gives readers some resources to turn to while learning how to tell your organization’s stories.

In 2005, after years of being a storyteller and a fundraising/communications consultant, I decided to marry these two pursuits and build more effective communication strategies and tools.  After all, a well-told story is the shortest distance between two people and telling your organization’s story is really no different than the stories we share with each other every day. 

However, it does require a wee bit of work.   First of all, you need to gather your organization’s history, mission and most of all – the positive impact it has on those it serves (proof of its “mission in action”).  Then, focus on choosing, gathering and telling the most convincing and compelling stories to your audience (could be future or current volunteers, staff or donors).  The goal of an impact story is to take others to the front lines of where your organization and its cause meet.  Choose the most emotionally-engaging way possible to tell these stories (using the most appropriate medium) to make your audience feel as though they are right there.  

Once you’ve covered the history and impact, your next task is to explain your future vision; paint a picture of what the community will look and feel like if your organization realized its mission (or current goal).  Don’t forget to include the journey and resources required to get there (highlights of your plan and your budget).  Next up, you need to articulate how your audience can help to achieve this future state…your “call to action” (in easy to follow steps).  In other words, place them in this story of success. 

In collecting this information, think about answering the following questions…Why is your organization the best at what it does? Why does it deserve support?  Is it a good steward of funds?  Develop your own set of questions – but in following the mantra of “show versus tell” distill and incorporate the answers into a handful of powerfully convincing and compelling tales…rather than simply listing these as facts. 

Over my 20+ years as a storyteller, I’ve learned that without a doubt, simplicity and authenticity wins out every time.   By mastering how to recognize, understand and tell authentic stories about your organization and its work (in plain language) – you’ll have the vital building blocks to create a powerful communication strategy.

As you may have noticed, there is a revival of interest in storytelling and as a result there are wonderful resources on this topic.  You can find lots of books, websites, blogs, etc. on many aspects of storytelling.  While there isn’t a book specifically on applying storytelling to non profit organizations (but I’m working on it), I’ve listed some of my favourite resources below.

And, don’t forget to seek out storytelling gatherings in your neck of the woods (check on the national website: http://www.sc-cc.com/) .  For example for those close to Victoria, why not drop into the next storytelling evening hosted by the Victoria Storytellers Guild, check out their website for dates/location: http://www.victoriastorytellers.org/

Learning the art of storytelling:
The Way of the Storyteller – Ruth Sawyer
Improving Your Storytelling – Doug Lipman
Suddenly They Heard Footsteps – Dan Yashinsky
Couple of website links on ingredients for good stories:
NPR’s Scott Simon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiX_WNdJu6w&feature=related
NPR’s Ira Glass (first part of four): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loxJ3FtCJJA

Storytelling for corporations:
The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling (or) The Springboard – Stephen Denning
The Story Factor (or) Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins – Annette Simmons
Your Client’s Story (specifically for financial advisors) – Scott West & Mitch Anthony

Gathering personal or family stories:
Telling Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups:  James Birren & Kathryn N. Cochran
Writing About Your Life – William Zinsser
Storycatcher – Christina Baldwin

Focus on stories about/for women:
Women Who Run With the Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Inviting the Wolf In – Loren Niemi & Elizabeth Ellis
Composing a Life – Mary Catherine Bateson

Blending creativity (and the need to) in your work:
A Whole New Mind – Daniel H. Pink
And a great Ted Talks on this topic by Sir Ken Robinson: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
The Leader’s Edge – Charles J. Palus & David M. Horth

Best book ever – on using plain language in all you write/tell:
Death Sentences – Don Watson

Through her business, The Narrative Company, Norma Cameron works with clients across Canada as a fundraising and communications consultant, teacher and facilitator. She believes passionately in the need for clarity in vision, mission and goals, plain language in all communications and tapping into the unparalleled power of story to motivate teams and attract support.

Norma is part of the CAGP Teaching Faculty and as a speaker and seasoned storyteller; she has performed at conferences, concerts and festivals in Canada, the USA and the UK.  You can reach her at
thenarrativecompany@telus.net.

 





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