Having a great story to tell makes you more engaging to your donors. And it makes your cause so much more real.
Always having a great story can be demanding. But there's one story you can always share.
And so many leaders neglect to tell this particular story. Which is funny, because you always have it available and it could be the most fascinating story you’ll ever tell.
It’s your 'Back-Story’.
A 'backstory' is the narrative of your journey that led you to become the leader you are today.
When you tell your 'backstory', it brings you and your cause to life. Because underlying what you share are the values you stand for, the deeper reasons you do what you do, and the vision that drives and guides you.
It’s so much more powerful that just sharing the plain facts of what you do.
A well-told backstory will enamor your donors and give them a story to tell others. And that will reinforce their involvement and support for you and your cause.
How do you tell a great backstory?
I was coaching an English FFB, an outreach Rabbi with fundraising responsibility. As I often do, I asked him to share his backstory.
He answered "There’s not much to tell. I come from a good family, I learnt in good yeshivas, then joined R’ Berkovit’s Kollel. Now I'm a kiruv rabbi. My story's not so inspiring, wouldn’t you say?"
So you may be thinking the same. Where’s the story?
We spoke more and I delved a little deeper. I was looking to find some emotion. Some feelings. I asked him to share a warm memory from his upbringing.
I was trying to extract the spark that would inspire him and others. It took awhile. (British people can be like that!)
Eventually we hit gold. Literally. In the form of his mother’s chicken soup! He painted a picture of a warm home. Of loving parents. Then the story began to take root.
He shared a particular strong and vivid memory of his Shabbas growing up. which engaged my senses. The flavor of his Moroccan mother’s chicken soup. Piping hot on a cold British winter Shabbas. I could literally taste it!
He described the beautiful zerimos that he sung with his father and brothers. The harmonizing. The achdus.
For Reb Eli’s backstory, the Shabbas experience set the scene.
Next we had to uncover his 'Turning Point'.
This is what links his story to the position he occupies today. For R' Eli, there was his ‘Aha’ moment. This happened when he volunteered, newly married, on a kiruv Shabbaton.
He described what it meant when he spoke to Jews with backgrounds less fortunate than his. And he shared what it meant to give others a taste of what he had growing up.
This was his 'turning point'. It was start of the drive to dedicate himself to reaching out to others.
Now when R' Eli wants to connect with new potential donors he tells his backstory.
Through it he builds their trust. They see he's authentic. Qualified to receive their donations. To make a difference in the lives of those he will be asking this donor to be investing his funds into.
His short backstory does a fabulous job, very quickly. He's not just an FFB without a story. He has a story which engages those he meets.
Now it's your turn. What's your backstory that led you to become the leader you are today?
B'Hatzlacha raba raba,
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