Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tell your story!

I just read about this resource in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and I can't wait to share it with all of my great nonprofit pals!

It is "a web platform to help organizations gather, curate, and use stories to effect change." Check it out here:

Storytelling is having a moment. For years, research has shown that people (i.e. potential donors) respond more, and more generously, to the story of ONE person who is being helped by a nonprofit's work, rather than a barrage of statistics - even if those statistics are really impressive. 

Now, it seems like storytelling is everywhere:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's November 6, 2014 edition included a major spread on nonprofit storytelling (sorry, most content is currently limited to subscribers, but that will likely change).

A Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in Seattle earlier this month was completely sold out.

NPR correspondent Shankar Vedantam (yes, I'm a superfan) recently told us "Why Your Brain Wants to Help One Child in Need - But Not Millions."

Through Consumer Union's stori.es, your organization can gather stories through the use of questionnaires, curate the answers, and develop meaningful stories to share with your stakeholders, including potential donors.

All nonprofits know that they have to do this - gather and share stories - but they don't know how, don't have the staff to devote to the task, can't get organized, etc. Hopefully, this new resource will make it easier to tell the world about the great work you do!

My own resources on creative grant writing, which can help you tell your organization's stories in more compelling and impactful ways, can be found HERE. Check out Grant Writing for Creative Souls.

Happy storytelling. Once upon a time...

Friday, November 07, 2014

Foundation giving hits an all-time high

A new report from the Foundation Center, among other things, foundation giving in the US has reached a record high of $54.7 billion. The report estimates that foundation giving will continue to grow at a few points above inflation in 2014, with independent and family foundations showing an even higher rate of growth. According to the report, in 2012 the US was home to more than 86,000 foundations.

The link above will take you to a one-page infographic/summary. From there you can download the 8-page report, which is also very graphic-heavy and easy to digest.

I put less stock in the numbers related to how/where foundations are giving (e.g. to education, health... or to economically disadvantaged, women and girls...), mainly because the sample size was relatively small - 1,000 larger foundations. However, I do think that the scope of the foundation world, the total amount of foundation assets, the rates of growth, and other statistics are interesting, revealing, and even surprising.

In my own work with foundations, I haven't necessarily seen that foundations are giving more, or are giving more easily. Securing foundation gifts still requires a skillful approach to cultivation and solicitation, ideally a partnership between foundation and grantee. While foundations may be giving more, my sense is that they are giving in a more focused, specific way, and there are more organizations out there doing the asking, which makes for a highly competitive field.