Does Story Matter?
by Cathy Kits, SCSBC Development Director ◊
“Storytelling is how we introduce ourselves, discover commonalities and differences, build community, and learn from each other’s experiences.” 1
People love stories. You need only go back to your own childhood to understand storytelling’s effect. Picture yourself curled up in a chair or snuggled under a blanket while someone told you a story. My favourites were the ones my Dad told – the adventures of Freddy the frog and Hector the snake – over and over again. Stories produce experiences that imprint themselves on our hearts.
Stories have the capacity to cultivate community; we connect with each other through the telling of them. They can move people to become a part of something bigger than themselves, gathering people together for a common cause. This is particularly relevant as you strive to grow a culture of giving in your school, inviting God’s people to be community and to give out of their own experiences of grace and God’s generosity. 2
Sharing the story of your school’s vision, how you’re living it out, and what your hopes and dreams are for your school’s future will inspire the people who share your values and worldview. Your vision is something they can get passionate about, that moves them at a transforming heart level. So inspire them! Your school has an amazing story to share. Find your voice.
Stories have the power to motivate, but the reality is that storytelling is hard work. It’s far easier to communicate facts, and we tend to default to that, particularly when it comes to asking people to give. Facts do matter, but ultimately people make decisions based on what the facts mean to them, not on the facts themselves. Stories appeal to the emotional decision making parts of our minds in ways that facts can’t. Consider your own response to an appeal. What moves you? The what or the why? Will the request to donate to a new program or building alone motivate you to give? Imagine if the facts and features of the new building were combined with the story of how your gift will help achieve the school’s vision, and ultimately impact the lives of the students in the school? You need to unite the heart and the head; communicating information in isolation isn’t enough. Make your facts come alive by knitting a story around them to create meaning.3
People give to a vision that has meaning for them, that evokes shared values. So, knowing that, the story of your vision must resonate with those who are listening to it. “Who’s listening and why are they listening?”4 You need to know. What are their stories? What do they care about? How do they perceive you? And what do they want to know about you? In order to have authentic engagement you need to meet people where they are and share the stories that resonate with them.
Yes, STORY matters. So tell your story and “grow real relationships with people, helping them see what God is doing, and then challenging them to have the impact that only they can have.”5 Share the stories that genuinely reflect your school’s vision in action, that are real, relevant and relatable. These are the ones that have the capacity to grow relationships with the people God has given you, inspiring them to join their story with yours.
- Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story
- Jeavons and Basinger: Growing Givers’ Hearts
- Jon Thomas, Communications Director, Post Advertising
- Josh Feit, Evangela Creative
- Zach Clark, Development and Leadership Coaching