Piloting Your Organization's Story

Flight SchoolBy Michele Traband, American Players Theatre

I went to flight school last fall. . . I logged over 20 hours learning valuable lessons about engaging donors and using their stories to help promote my organization during the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. Thanks to a scholarship provided by the AFP Greater Madison chapter, I had the opportunity to “sharpen my saw” in Chicago, participating in discussions and hearing from national and international donor relations professionals. 

I learned so much, it’s difficult to pick one topic. There were sessions on how to create digital stories on a budget and then use those stories across multiple channels. I learned to realize that special events are stories, and how to create a successful event that gives your donors a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. I brainstormed with other fundraising professionals about best practices for social media.

One of my favorite sessions was entitled “Storyliving: Empowering Major Donors to Take a Leading Role in Your Organization’s Story through their Philanthropy.” Led by Tammy Zonker, this session was truly eye-opening for me.  Instead of spoon feeding stories about my organization’s needs, Tammy showed us how to invite donors to roll up their sleeves and jump into the story, engaging in our work in a way that inspires them to increase their giving level. 

She outlined the seven most common donor personas and how each one prefers to be approached and handled. She gave us sample questions to ask donors that will help us identify personas and preferences, thereby accelerating our cultivation cycle. And she shared inspiring stories of how she personally has used this technique to secure transformational gifts for her organization.

I’d be happy to share Tammy’s Storyliving slide presentation with any currently active Greater Madison chapter member. Simply contact the chapter at admin@madisonafp.com for more information.

And I highly recommend this conference to anyone who works with donors or is in charge of writing about their organization. The 2017 conference is in San Diego!  More info here: http://nonprofitstorytellingconference.com/

I’m grateful for the Greater Madison chapter’s support. If you have a conference or workshop that will help you do your job better, I highly recommend reaching out to the scholarship committee about applying for funding support.