Storytelling Tips from Planned Giving Days

By Impact Team

May 31, 2017

This year, Planned Giving Days was all about storytelling—one of our favorite things here at Impact!

It started with John Trybus of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication. We already loved John before his plenary address last Thursday morning, but now we love him even more!

Here are three tips from his talk.

  1. Kill your elevator speech! Boilerplate isn’t going to cut it. Open the door for true “love stories” from your staff, supporters, and those you serve—ask people why they love your organization. Consider opening your staff meeting with “love stories.” Don’t be too prescriptive in your messaging—open up the door and let your fans speak through social media, video, and more.
  2. Find and activate your “citizen storytellers.” John did this effectively with the Jane Goodall Institute when he invited uber-Jane fans to “work the book lines” and tell stories during Jane’s book tours. Later named the Gombe Group for the area in Africa where Jane worked, these citizen storytellers have been engaged with the Institute for many years and have collectively told an estimated 75,000 stories.
  3. Recognize that stories are the new currency of change. Funders are increasingly recognizing the power of strong narrative to move a cause forward. Get creative and form storytelling partnerships with corporations, foundations, and donors who want to see you try innovative approaches.

John’s talk was a true highlight of the conference. But attendees were also able to watch two nonprofit virtual reality movies, compliments of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Conservation International. And we heard about a new initiative at the World Food Programme that is training storytellers in refugee camps and other communities—providing smart phones as well as instruction in public speaking and video making so the trainees can “tell stories in their own words.”

Attendees also had a chance to record their very own StoryCorps interview at the 3,2,1 Story Corner organized by MiniMatters and Impact Communications. And of course, the hallways were also full of stories as fundraising and gift planning professionals connected with new and old friends.

The storytelling craze continues and we love it!

Planned Giving Days, sponsored by the National Capital Gift Planning Council, celebrated its 25th year this year. Mark your calendars now for next year’s Planned Giving Days on May 24 and 25, 2018.

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