Image from todaymade.com.
At our anniversary celebration last week our key note speaker Steve Mariotti Founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and JJ Ramberg our nonprofiteer of the year and Co-Founder of GoodSearch.com spent time sharing their experiences and paths that led them to careers in social change. Even though they work in different causes and have different backgrounds, they both shared one powerful piece of advice to changemakers: learn how to tell a story.
The importance of story telling comes up quite a bit in the nonprofit sector, especially when it comes to more externally facing professions like communications and fundraising. However this is an important skill in all aspects of nonprofit work. As we seek to grow and engage our supporters, employees, and communities we serve, we must learn how to present our experiences and our work in a compelling way that draws our audience in and makes them feel connected and invested in the work we are doing. Story telling is one of the most powerful tools changemakers have, yet it’s a hard skill to master. What does it mean to tell a good story? How do I get others to tell their stories in support of our cause? How do we go from story telling to taking action?
Luckily there are resources to help you get started....
YNPN Twin Cities board members Adaobi Okolue and Chris Oien shared best practices learned from their chapter's blog. I jokingly tweeted that I should write a blog post about their blog. Adaobi and Chris's presentation was informative to anyone interested in starting a group blog, but it was also a great story about taking a good idea and rallying a group of people to implement it.
How to build buy in
YNPN Twin Cities spent a lot of time and effort generating support from the board before launching their blog. They addressed capacity and technology concerns with:
- One-on-one conversations
- In-person trainings about the blogging platform
- A schedule of blog writing responsibility that is manageable. (Board members are expected to write a post once every few months, and they know well in advance when their post is expected.)
Lesson Learned: Invest time at the beginning of a project to address concerns and build personal connections with your stakeholders.
From the beginning, YNPN Twin Cities was clear about what the blog is and what the blog is not. The YNPN Twin Cities blog is not:
- A fundraising effort
- An event promotion mechanism
Lesson Learned: For an idea to succeed, it needs a clear goal. And a clear goal cancels out other potential goals, even when they're worthy.
Making it work
YNPN Twin Cities has an arsenal of tools that help its blog run smoothly and successfully:
- The blog's posts are assigned months in advance. Authors know exactly when they're expected to contribute.
- Each week, posts are submitted, edited and published on a set schedule.
- Topics for blog posts are assigned. (There are "open topic" weeks as well.)
- The "blog bible" provides extensive documentation.
Lesson Learned: Create and document a manageable structure that helps a good idea become a great idea.
Launching the next good idea
Not satisfied with having an awesome blog and presenting about it at the YNPN national conference, YNPN Twin Cities is including new voices in their blog beyond YNPN-TC board members.
Lesson Learned: Embrace the next phase of your great idea!