Kate Elliot

Telling your nonprofit's story

posted by
Kate Elliott,

Program Coordinator
Oregon Health Care
Quality Corporation

There are mountains of resources for nonprofits who want to perfect the art of telling the stories of the clients and communities they serve. Successfully telling these stories is considered a crucial part of nearly all aspects of nonprofit marketing, from the basics of communicating a mission and vision to soliciting the support of donors, inspiring commitment from volunteers, writing compelling grant proposals and more. To be sure, these are all very important aspects of defining and promoting a nonprofits’ identity, but individual organizations and the sector as a whole have an even bigger reason to sharpen their storytelling skills.

In fact, a recent Nonprofit Quarterly blog post calls on nonprofits to tell use their storytelling skills on a much broader level; to change the prevailing narrative about being poor in America. This call to action is right on point. After all, nonprofits invest significant intellectual and financial resources in learning to tell rich, vibrant stories as a means of marketing and fundraising. Many organizations are well-positioned to use existing skills to support honest portrayals of their clients in politics, popular culture and the media as well as challenge misconceptions or over-generalizations. As a trusted community resource with intimate knowledge of the hardships and challenges their clients face, nonprofits are in a unique position to tell these stories.

Telling these stories is no simple matter. Initiating honest dialogue about tough issues like economic class and the disparity between the rich and poor is tough work. Changing pre-conceived notions and popular myths is certainly not any easier. Having these conversations is not something America does well, but nonprofits are the perfect neutral player to facilitate them. Here are some things nonprofits can do to put their storytelling skills to good use:

Staff and Volunteer Training Tips

posted by 
Kate Elliott,
Training Administrator,
Planned Parenthood Arizona

Providing formal training to staff and volunteers has obvious benefits for an organization, individual staff members and volunteers. For the organization, it is a means of ensuring staff and volunteers are knowledgeable, making them exceptional ambassadors for the organization in and outside of work. In addition, training is an essential part of risk management – failing to properly train individuals, providing services to clients, or even representing the organization to the public can have serious consequences. For staff members and volunteers, training is a means of professional development many are eager to receive. In addition to it being an essential part of effective volunteer management, many volunteers find personal value in the training provided to them by organizations about which they care deeply.

Regardless of whether or not your organization has a formal training program, there are things nonprofit leaders can do to ensure staff and volunteers are appropriately oriented to the organization and able to continue to learn and develop professionally.