juliebrownGuest blogger, Julie Brown, Program Director at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. Julie is intrigued by storytelling, and the opportunity it offers to inspire donors and volunteers to act.

As a program officer preparing a presentation for our board, I search for one answer:  “What is the common thread in the successful video nonprofit storytelling projects this board has funded?”  Some videos make an impact and some don’t.


Guest Blogger on December 5, 2013 in storytelling | 12 comments
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chapincoleheadshot13smallGuest blogger, Chapin Cole is a proud Millennial who works in nonprofit development in the California Bay Area. She blogs on getting successful (yet stress-free) as a nonprofit staffer.

Who cares what your nonprofit is doing to change the world? I don’t. I’m busy; I don’t have time to read about programs and services, how many people you’ve lifted out of poverty, or how many children you’ve taught to read.

And yet, the minute you put someone’s story in front of me, I’m hooked.


Guest Blogger on November 21, 2013 in storytelling | 8 comments
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Whether you love, hate or have never seen Breaking Bad, there’s a lot to learn from its emotionally intense, can’t-stop-watching storytelling.

Pay special attention to these to-dos for your nonprofit storytelling:

  • Remain flexible, i.e. stay relevant—If your network’s perspective, wants or needs change, change your stories (and the rest of your messages) too to ensure connection.
  • Show and tell—Memorable details, like the cotton-candy-colored blue meth that plays a major role in the Breaking Bad story, keep the story running in your listeners’ minds.
  • Distribution is everything—Even the most moving stories will fall flat if you don’t get them out there right. Produce your stories in formats that folks like to share (i.e. video), ask them to spread the word to friends and family and provide specific how-tos to make it easy for them to do so.

Here’s how to break out of bad nonprofit stories:


Nancy Schwartz on November 5, 2013 in storytelling | 2 comments
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We are pleased to welcome our new guest blogger, Julie Brown, Program Director at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. Julie is intrigued by storytelling, and the opportunity it offers to inspire donors and volunteers to act.

”The universe is made of stories, not of atoms,” said poet Muriel Rukeyser.

Just a year ago, Ruykeyser’s words proved to be transformational for the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. As a program officer listening to a grantee report about a local man facing a terrible disease with amazing dignity, I felt called to capture this inspirational story using a medium that could convey its energy.  Grantee interim reports are usually full of data, but this was different; this one had soul.


Guest Blogger on October 17, 2013 in storytelling | 0 comments
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Strengthen RelationshipsOur daughter, Charlotte, is away at Camp Harlam for 3 1/2 long weeks this summer. It’s her first time, and our pleasure in relaxed evenings and quiet weekend mornings is punctuated by severe pangs of missing her.

Most evenings we can quiet our pangs by going to the private website where photos from the day are posted. Charlotte frequently shows up in a photo or two, and we can get a sense of what she’s up to and how much she’s enjoying it (or not). I can’t tell you the pleasure we got when we spotted the biggest smile ever after she had completed the ropes course last week. We’re really getting to feel like part of the Camp Harlam family.

Harlam has done a great job of building our relationship in a natural way from the moment we shared our interest in registering Charlotte for the summer. I urge your organization to do the same, from the moment you first connect with folks who show interest as participants, supporters, clients, partners and/or volunteers and actively throughout the course of your relationship—BETWEEN your asks. Here’s how:


Nancy Schwartz on August 6, 2013 in Relationship Building | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Storytelling #1-9

I’m a sucker for stark contrast. It’s one of the best learning tools ever, and today I’m drawing on examples from  Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP).

The Challenge
MMP supports and strengthens mentoring programs in Massachusetts and faces this marketing challenge common to every organization that doesn’t provide direct services:


Nancy Schwartz on May 15, 2013 in storytelling | 7 comments
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TechSoup Digital StorytellingHere are two absolutely irresistible (and free) ways to build your storytelling and video skills.

1) Jump into the free training offered right now with the Tech Soup Digital Storytelling Challenge, and submit your video by April 30.

Ready to change the world with a story? So is TechSoup, which is dedicated to providing your nonprofit, library, or charity with the resources it needs to tell its story.

Participate in these no-charge interactive trainings (listed below) to learn valuable storytelling and production skills, then create your own story to enter the challenge by April 30.

Nancy Schwartz on April 5, 2013 in storytelling | 3 comments
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Welcome to guest blogger Meghan Hurley, Special Events Intern at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a senior at Loyola University Maryland. 

Congrats to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for 40 years of persistent work to improve access to, and quality of, health care. RWJF has a multi-faceted anniversary campaign in place including sharing stories of those who have been touched by its work in some way.

Storytelling is a natural component of an anniversary campaign, but requires your organization to find those meaningful stories that may well have been lost (or never gathered, noted or heard) over the years. Here’s what Meghan writes about RWJF’s story banking approach and results….


Guest Blogger on July 24, 2012 in storytelling | 1 comment
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Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.

I’m on a mission to end bad nonprofit video. You know, the boring, long, put-you-to-sleep video about what the nonprofit does and not why, how or results. Nonprofits have too much on the line—and too many inspiring stories—for this.

Guest Blogger on June 28, 2012 in Video | 6 comments
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Last week I had the joy of participating in #12NTC (the 2012 NTEN—Nonprofit Technology Network—Conference), with so many incredible peers in the nonprofit sector. I learned a ton, from one-to-one conversations and from the formal sessions, and will be sharing those insights and guidance out with you over the weeks to come.

Four storytelling superstars and I jointly presented Say It in Pixels: Visual Storytelling in the 21st Century (12NTCSIIP). Cara Jones of Storytellers for Good and I kicked off with some must-dos for every successful story, narrative or visual:

Nancy Schwartz on April 11, 2012 in storytelling | 7 comments
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