My wife is very good at capturing moments. One point of contention in our relationship has always been her incessant pursuit of taking the perfect picture. No matter the occasion.
I’ve probably posed for more deleted pictures than anyone ever. In the moment, Maggie’s insatiable need to document every mundane life event gets on my nerves. But nine times out of 10, I’m so glad she made me take that picture in front of the dead sunflowers or that group shot with all of my college friends I don’t get to see very often.
Images have a way of telling a story. They evoke certain emotions in us months and years after the fact. Like the one at the top of this post. This is one of about 12 images and videos Maggie stringed together into her Instastory (for more on this, check out my post on Social Media 101) this past Sunday.
We were on our way home from a trip to Brevard, NC, when suddenly my car’s dashboard started flashing and blinking like an imminently detonating explosive. Then I felt the wheel stiffen in my hands as the power steering went out. I struggled to pull off an exit just as the car decided it’d had enough, and we coasted into a Bojangles parking lot.
I was stressed. We were still three hours from home. We had a 13-month-old baby with no clean diapers or milk. And I’d decided not to renew my AAA membership this past December! I wasn’t thinking of telling any kind of story. I just wanted to solve the problem.
Too many organizations find themselves in this situation. They’re so focused on solving problems and meeting their clients’ needs that they miss out on opportunities to tell their stories, captivate potential and existing donors, and raise needed funds to improve their programs.
Fortunately for me, I had Maggie. While I was troubleshooting, she was capturing the moment, telling a story. The story of how we spent five hours haggling with AAA representatives, eating biscuits, and befriending the Bojangles staff.
How it Relates to Nonprofits
This is obviously a silly example, and really just an excuse for me to post pictures of Cartland on the Angel Oak blog, but my point here is very important. When organizations become so focused on putting their heads down and getting the work done, they actually do themselves and their clients a disservice.
Organizations that fail to collect and tell their stories will ultimately fail. They’ll stop drawing in new donors and volunteers. They’ll lose their mildly engaged supporters to other organizations who are telling captivating stories.
Just as I had Maggie to document and tell my story while I solved our problem, nonprofits need someone tasked with mining for stories of the organization. This can be a committed volunteer, a communications director, or an outsourced partner (????).
Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t have. You’d be surprised what you can do with the resources already available to you. For example, if you have a smartphone, you’re equipped to create solid videos. Check out Will’s tips for quality smartphone videos. And if you download a couple of apps, you can create quality graphics to support your stories. Check out Canva and Spark Post.
If you have any questions on how your organization can tell better stories, please reach out to me.