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Why Telling Our Story is all the More Important Today and Every Day

By Emily Pualwan, Account Executive, HPO

As nonprofits, we are always in the position of demonstrating our worth and value to society. Many of us have spent our careers working in nonprofits, where we have heard over and over – we are ALL the chief mission and marketing officer; every one of us is in the business of raising funds to support the mission.

Now with the spotlight on ‘showing results’ and ‘return on investment’, and with every grant, funding source, and dollar being questioned and challenged, the need for us to Tell our Story is greater than ever. Even venerable, recognized charities’ funding is on the chopping block. What does that mean for those organizations with less tenure and name recognition?

We hear a lot about telling our story. While much important time and energy is spent on measuring KPI through metrics and dashboards, we need to spend as much time on the human impact, the intangibles. And we need to tell this complex and interconnected story every single day.

Annual Reports and stewardship letters often focus on output measures – how many people did we serve, how many meals delivered or screening tests given , how many houses built. As much, or more, time needs to be spent on outcome measures – how many lives saved, children rescued from a lifetime of homelessness. What was the difference we made, not just ‘what did we do’.

Beyond outputs and outcomes are the intangibles – hard to measure, but the human aspects that can make a world of difference in someone’s life. How important was the visit to a shut-in, regardless of the meal served or the bandage replaced. How can we measure the value that human compassion and interaction make in someone’s life?

The better we are at telling our story, gathering testimonials, sharing photographs, and keeping it local, the better all in our sector can weather political storms and shifting priorities. This message is all the more important today.


Emily Pualwan has been with ASG for 4 years, and is the Executive Director for HazingPrevention.Org.