Good directions for the way Home
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the term “fatal flaw” before, but when my closest friends rally around mine (all in good humor of course), there’s a unanimous vote for lacking directional ability. If my life depended on it, I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere outside of UNC’s campus or my hometown across the state, Rutherfordton, without Google Maps. It’s embarrassing but true. No matter how simple the route or how much I try to remember, landmarks just don’t cut it.
Starting off with a weakness might not be the most savvy approach to an introduction, but my lack of directional skills is foundational to the lessons I’ve learned about important branding and storytelling – so bear with me. I’m Holly Sherburne, the newest addition to the Angel Oak Creative team as the client success intern. I just finished my junior year of college at the University of National Champions, also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, and my studies are focused in English, public relations and education – essentially, I’m reading the greatest stories of all time, learning how to tell them and how to teach them. So that’s my college life up to junior year, but let me take you back to my junior year of high school.
Like all the coolest 16-year-olds, I drove a burgundy minivan to school every day. The snazziest features of the van included a missing door handle, unreliable speedometer, no AC and a janky transmission. After my family moved across town mid-November of my junior year, the tiny amount of directional capacity I accumulated flew out the window. Coming home from a friend’s house one night on the backroads of North Carolina foothills, it was pitch black and freezing outside. Halfway home, I didn’t know where I was. I picked up my phone to see a 10% battery message and was faced with two options: risk a dead phone by using Google Maps or call my dad.
My stubborn 16-year-old self reluctantly called my dad and frantically tried to explain my location in the dark. My dad quickly pieced together where I was, gave me directions back to the main road and stayed on the line until my phone died. A couple minutes later, my headlights lit up my driveway, and I could see my dad’s silhouette from the back porch waiting for me to be home safely.
Why do nonprofits need clear direction?
Clear directions get us home. Like a reliable GPS (or a good dad in my case), mission statements show us where we’re headed and the turns to make on the way. They help us find our “true north” as we like to say at Angel Oak Creative. It’s been an immense privilege already to join the Angel Oak family with a mission to glorify the Lord with integrity and excellence in our work by embodying generosity, gratitude, grace and grit. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping each other get home. For nonprofits, the destination is always fulfilling the mission, so it’s our job to make sure the directions are clear. The Google Maps equivalent for nonprofit marketing is good storytelling – it gives us energy to keep on keeping on and celebrate the way nonprofits change lives.
A month into this internship, I’m happy to report I can get from my home in Chapel Hill to our office in downtown Raleigh without Google Maps – or a phone call to my dad! I’m even more excited to daily bear witness to the steadfastness our community nonprofits pursue in each of their unique missions. Missional drift is a real problem – some may say a fatal flaw for the nonprofit sector – so it’s important to keep the stories we tell surrounding the advancement of the mission. We’re all on our way Home, so until then, let’s focus on getting and giving clear directions.
Charge your phone and give me a wave on I-40!
Holly Sherburne, Client Success Intern