Tue, May 15 2007

Tell a story (and get free training if you’re stuck)

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Writing •

Stories are the most powerful form of expression, and as marketers and writers, we should never make a point without telling a story.  When one person tells another person a story, the two people are transported together outside the present moment, to another time and place.  They are living an experience together as one person recounts what happened and another imagines it in his or her mind. 

What better way to communicate our cause?

If you doubt the power of a story, think about the last time you gave money to a good cause.  I’m willing to bet a free copy of my book that a story was behind your gift.

I looked at ten charity websites today and not one had a story or link to a story on the home page.  Through direct mail, I get some stories, but they tend to sound like they were written from a fundraising 101 template.  Where are our stories?!  Where is your story?  Get one now.

Need inspiration?  Order Storytelling as Best Practice if you don’t already have it.  Or if you don’t want to spend the $15, sign up for a May 24 free training with its author, Andy Goodman, who is its author and the best guy on storytelling for nonprofits, hands down. (It’s free for the first 125, according to Andy’s site, so hurry.)

Once you’ve done this, start writing some stories about what you do, why you do it, and how important it is.

A really talented writer I used to work with at CARE is Gwendolyn Driscoll, who is now a journalist.  She wrote this article in the Orange County Register.

I went to the Saddleback Church website and found its story:

When Rick and Kay Warren first arrived in the Saddleback Valley in December of 1979, all they had was what they could fit in the back of a U-haul truck. Fresh out of seminary, the young pastor and his bride dreamed of planting a church that would be “a place where the hurting, the depressed, the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness and encouragement.”

With many good Bible-teaching churches already in Southern California, Pastor Rick turned his attention to those who didn’t attend church regularly. Two weeks after Pastor Rick and Kay arrived in the Saddleback Valley, they began with a small Bible study, meeting with one other family in the Warrens’ small condo.

On Easter of 1980, Saddleback Valley Community Church held its very first public service and 205 people, most of whom had never been to church, showed up. That began one of the most exciting journeys of growth that any church has experienced in American history. In more than two decades of ministry in South Orange County, God has continued to expand the church’s influence. Currently, Saddleback Church has more than 200 ministries serving the church and community. One in nine people in the area call Saddleback their church home.

How do you tell the story of your organization and its start?  Is it this colorful?  It is this compelling? I’m not a churchgoer, but I’m taken with this story.  Not surprising given the man behind it wrote the Purpose-Driven Life, which sold 16 million copies.  He is a storyteller.  You can - and should - be one, too. 




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