Inspiring Generosity


6 Stories that Spur Generosity

It’s Holy Week. Yes, another Holy Week during this pandemic. God bless all my clergy and church office friends who are doing the heavy lifting to make things feel normal this Easter (ummm…remind me again, what is normal?). Your lay people appreciate all your hard work. Thank you.
Don’t forget my request from last week’s Why is Fundraising F.U.N.?:
What has brought you joy and surprise in raising money?
Share your story. Send it to me and I will feature it in an upcoming blog. I’ve already received a few responses and they have made my day. I can’t wait to share them with you.
I’m sharing an old post that’s still relevant…

Here’s a thought: cleaning your desk can be a really good thing. Mind you, I clean mine maybe every eighteen months or so – when the piles of paper are so high that I can’t see out the window. But that’s just me being a clean freak. It’s not contagious, I promise.

This morning I was doing a little tidying up and I came across an article from 2014. It appears that I (shockingly) clean up more on a 48-month schedule. Nancy Schwartz’s “6 Types of Stories that Spur Giving” is a great reminder of the importance of storytelling. What’s in the parenthesis represent my comments:
1.  Your Founding Story. This is how your organization was created.
(I remember when our pastor first arrived and began a sermon series recounting our church’s history. We were all surprised at just how inspiring the story was. We had roots. We were important to our city. The reminder of who we were encouraged us to build on our rich heritage.)
2.  Your Focus Story. If your founding story tells how your organization came into existence, your focus story should explain why you exist.
(This is the key question every congregation and organization must answer. Don’t know what your purpose is? Click here and here for some ideas. Watch Simon Senek’s powerful, “The Golden Circle” TED Talk. Take time to figure out why you were put in your community.)

3.  Your Impact Stories. These most-told nonprofit stories feature the before and after – and illustrate the impact of your organization and supporters.
(I love hearing old-fashioned testimonies – stories – from people who have had their lives changed for the better by being involved with a faith community. Because of your congregation, lives are being transformed. It’s time to reclaim the testimony.)
4.  Your People Stories. These are donor, staff, volunteer, client/participant profiles.
(This is very similar to “Impact Stories” but the focus is on how your congregation/organization is changing people from within your organization. This is often told in written pieces.)
5.  Your Strength Stories. Strength stories showcase how your organization’s particular focus or approach adds value to the community you serve and/or moves your issue or cause forward in a way unmatched by other organizations.
(Hint: this gets back to your “why do you exist” question. How do you add value to your community? Answering that question alone might have you cheering and feeling great about your place in your neighborhood or town. Then – and this is critical – tell your strength story not only to your insiders, but to your community as well.)
6.  Your Future story. Think about the change you want to make in the world or what your work will do.
(What does your preferred image of a better world look like? This is your vision question. In five years, will your community or congregation look the same because – or if – you’re there? I sure hope not. It should look a lot better. Let your people know what you dream, hope, and pray for your community and how your congregation/organization will be a part of the change. This is what often motivates people the most to give.)

It’s a given. Stories are important. If you have any doubt, take a look at your Bible and think about all the stories that you remember from the Good Book. Your stories can make your congregation and its mission come alive and inspire others to be generous. You have a story to tell. Be sure everyone hears it.
Originally posted October 17, 2018

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. This seems appropriate – the world’s largest virtual choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” in 2016. This song gets her every time. Hallelujah! Cesie is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.