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[Guest Post] The Diagram of Moral Storytelling Excellence

At this time’s visitor publish on moral nonprofit storytelling is from Caliopy Glaros. Caliopy is the Founder and Principal Guide at Philanthropy With out Borders, a agency with experience in moral storytelling, donor engagement, and strategic planning. This text was initially printed on her weblog. You may be taught extra in her coaching in The Nonprofit Academy referred to as “Moral Nonprofit Storytelling: From Exploitation to Empathy.” 

by Caliopy Glaros of Philanthropy With out Borders

That is a kind of tales we inform ourselves: That fundraising employees and program employees should not aligned in storytelling.

There’s a notion that the fundraising employees prioritize the wants of donors, desirous to overly deal with the unfavorable elements of shoppers’ lives and commodify their tales into “belongings” for the annual enchantment.

After which there’s a notion that program employees, who work extra intently with shoppers and know issues about their lives and circumstances that may solely be identified via time and belief, are too protecting of their shoppers’ identities and tales; so cautious and cautious that they forestall tales from getting out and impede the fundraising efforts.

The story is that the fundraising employees and program employees simply can’t see eye-to-eye.
Ethical Storytelling Diagram of the nonprofit fundraising staff totally separate from the nonprofit program staff
This dichotomy is definitely false, however the rigidity is actual. I do encounter these beliefs in organizations massive and small, however I’m right here to let you know that there’s all the time, all the time overlap.
Ethical Storytelling Diagram of nonprofit fundraising staff overlapping with nonprofit program staff

First, we will acknowledge that each our roles rely upon belief and the relationships we domesticate. For program employees, their main relationships are with shoppers, and for fundraising employees, our main relationships are with donors.Second, each roles harness the facility of tales, we simply use these tales in numerous methods. Program employees could also be utilizing tales to show, to advocate, or to encourage, whereas fundraising employees use tales to do… nicely, really the identical factor. See, we don’t use tales to boost cash, we use tales to show, to advocate, and to encourage, and philanthropy is the pure consequence of somebody feeling impressed.Lastly, it’s value mentioning that many organizations have shoppers who donate – which makes them donors too! And a few of our donors might share lived experiences with our shoppers, if we solely take the time to be taught this about them.There’s all the time overlap. However the overlap in our roles or motivations is just not what’s essential. What issues in moral storytelling is the overlap in what compels our donors to provide, and the way your shoppers or story contributors need their tales informed.
Overlapping circles representing the mid-section of where what compels donors to give nonprofit gifts meets how your donors want their stories gold

What Compels Donors to Give or Interact

We should inform tales in a method that resonates with our donors, however that doesn’t imply it ought to come on the expense of our shoppers’ dignity.

Whereas some folks might imagine a photograph of a crying little one is extra more likely to elicit funds than one among a smiling little one, this has not been confirmed in analysis. Even among the most strong research contradict each other or present inconclusive outcomes. “What” compels donors to provide can’t be decreased to a unclean tear-streaked face, or tales of profound hardship. Attempting to measure donor motivations in A/B advertising and marketing checks is difficult and we are sometimes not in a position to attract concrete conclusions as to why some campaigns have been marginally extra profitable than others. However when researchers really ask donors what they need, here’s what they are saying:

  1. To really feel seen, heard, and valued
  2. To know their reward will make a distinction
  3. To really feel part of one thing greater than themselves.

Is that basically at odds with the dignity of our shoppers? It doesn’t must be, so long as we’re ensuring to inform tales the best way our shoppers need them informed.

How Your Story Contributors Need Their Tales Advised

How do our contributors need their tales informed? How do they wish to be understood and remembered by audiences? It’s inconceivable so that you can reply that query for them. As a substitute, we should commit ourselves to a technique of securing suggestions from our shoppers to make sure that we’re telling tales which might be true, that honor them, and that maintain our organizations accountable. You need to get suggestions out of your shoppers. You need to deal with them as collaborators and co-authors in your storytelling course of. My articles on suggestions gathering, interviewing, and modifying are good locations to begin.

A Venn diagram showing how to create an ethical nonprofit storytelling strategy

© Philanthropy With out Borders

Your (and Your Group’s) Identification and Strengths

Lastly, there may be another piece of this diagram, which is your individual id and strengths as a storyteller, in addition to that of your group.

You’re the filter via which the tales get informed, the microphone that amplifies the messages. How is your id or expertise located regarding the communities mirrored in your tales? And what about your group as a complete? Who’s represented in your group? What’s your group’s relationship to the communities you accomplice with?

One problem the nonprofit sector has is the disconnect between the experiences of its employees within the fundraising and advertising and marketing workplaces, and people of the folks mirrored within the tales they inform. There are employees who’ve by no means skilled starvation, displacement, or struggle, and are telling tales about individuals who have.

We do must decide to recruiting extra employees from our shopper populations, however these efforts won’t substitute the significance of gathering shopper suggestions, nor will they substitute efforts that we (I imply all people) ought to put money into sustaining consciousness round our personal biases, assumptions, and the bounds of our personal experiences. And… I additionally don’t need you to see these very regular human issues as deficits to your character or to your job. As a substitute of being afraid of what we lack or of what we don’t know, we will reframe our enhanced self-awareness, self-skepticism, and self-accountability as a energy.

Asking “How do I do know what I wrote is true?” holds our work to a better customary, and lets us know when we have to hunt down extra info to strengthen our tales. Asking, “What’s influencing my perspective?” enhances your self-awareness and means that you can de-center your self from the story. What we want is:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Curiosity
  3. A willingness to be modified by what we be taught.

These are extremely highly effective expertise (I view them as expertise, not values or traits, as a result of we’ve got to actively apply them with a view to declare to embody them). We aren’t born with these expertise – they’re realized and cultivated over time. Rejoice these strengths and leverage them to do good work.

As to your group, if it doesn’t have illustration from the shopper inhabitants, or is just not client-led, or client-driven, ask what you are able to do to amplify the voices of companions, or how one can change into extra client-led. Additionally ask how, as a company, you may embody the practices of self-awareness (consciousness of how your group is located throughout the neighborhood and the way it’s perceived by that neighborhood), in addition to openness to shopper suggestions, and willingness to vary and adapt.

Your storytelling technique lies clearly on the intersection of those three parts: what compels donors to have interaction, how contributors need their tales informed, and the strengths you deliver to your function.

If you’d like extra like this, try Caliopy’s coaching on moral storytelling within the Nonprofit Academy referred to as: “From Exploitation to Empathy.” 



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