Storytelling for Humans

with Daisha Versaw, Consultant

Stories help make our work possible, and we all have what it takes to be great storytellers! It’s part of our wiring as humans. Regardless of our title or role, learning to recognize and grow our innate storytelling gifts can improve our confidence and have a profound impact on advancing our missions and work.

Storytelling is a powerful communication skill, especially for people who make a difference every day through local nonprofits. We have a lot of hope-filled stories to tell, and we can use those stories to connect, inspire, and spark action. Good stories can attract supporters to our work, level up our grant proposals, inspire collaboration, contribute to a healthy organizational culture, and help our communities imagine what’s possible. Learning more about stories—from the science of story to the elements of good stories and how those elements work—helps us grow our storytelling skills and become better connectors, leaders, and bridge builders.

On a big picture level, the stresses and strains of the past few years have led to record nonprofit burnout, especially among nonprofit fundraisers. It’s easy to get caught up in the tips and tricks, the tools and subscriptions, the formulas and algorithms, the urgency, and the pressure. It is crucial for our sector to seek out and adopt new ways of being and approaches that align with our values. Storytelling is one such approach, because it is so deeply human. Regardless of the platform we’re using (social media, print, video, coffee chat, donor letter, etc.), examining the stories we tell, nurturing our innate storytelling abilities, and seeking to tell better stories is a way for all of us to uplift our missions while honoring our humanity, the humanity of our supporters, and the humanity of the people we serve.

Participants will gain more confidence in themselves as storytellers, develop a better understanding of what story is, and gain insight into how to leverage different storytelling elements effectively. They will also come away with some practical tools and creative ideas to add to their toolbox and storytelling libraries as well as some ethical considerations to support them in telling stories in ways that are equitable and inclusive.

Presentation Handout:

Storytelling for Humans Handout & Worksheet