Why Telling Your Organization’s Story Matters

???????????????By Ruby Maddox

I attended two events this past week both with the focus on Philanthropy and noted two similarities in the messages of these two events: Storytelling.

The first event was hosted by Bay Path’s College as part of their “Bold Thoughts in the New America”, Hot Topics Lecture Series. The speaker was Dr. Eugene TempelIndiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy founding dean, Nonprofit Times 2013 Influencer of the Year,  and a top expert in the field of Philanthropy.  Dr. Tempel shared a few statistics on the state of Philanthropy in America; including the decline in alumni giving in higher ed institutions and comparative research on giving among men and women.  He also discussed what he saw as the many roles of philanthropy among others, the reduction of human suffering and enhancing of human potential.

When a local community-based organization asked what their organization could do to increase their number of donors Dr. Tempel noted that it was important for the organization to find a way to tell their story. “The most compelling thing one can do is tell stories about the success of your organization…and how you’re making a difference.”
“Fundraising from my perspective is the difficult work of engagement. It’s figuring out how you engage people”, noted Tempel.

The second event I attended was one of the Women in Philanthropy breakfast events entitled “Donors Share: A Panel Discussion”, moderated by Katie Allan Zobel, President of of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. The panel featured four local donors: Sally Griggs, Amy Jamrog, Ellen Lindsay and Sarah Buttenweiser, all of whom discussed what inspires them to give.   While each donor discussed several things that had turned them off from an organization; not being in alignment with the organization’s values or receiving way too many glossy brochures, each panelists seem to agree that it’s a personal connection that drives their philanthropy.

As Amy Jamrog remarked, ” I love Facebook and I read annual reports. Love them! They tell the organization’s story.”
Sarah Buttenweiser, noted, “I give where I’m engaged. Social media is a great way to tell your story.”
Ellen Lindsey pointed out,”What motivates me to give is that personal touch from an organization.”
“What matters to me is transparency”, said Sally Griggs.

Next week I’ll discuss different ways your organization can tell its story.

As a philanthropist (of your time or money) What motivates you to give?

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