For more than 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of leading and participating in the mission-planning efforts of many nonprofits as a volunteer, donor, board member and, in some instances, as a fundraiser and professional consultant.
Embedded in those organizations’ planning efforts is an important key to philanthropy: personal stories.
Whether it is the story of a constituent’s heartfelt need or that of a donor’s satisfaction in helping to meet that need, personal stories inspire and motivate others to care and give of their time and resources.
The impact of someone’s story was made very clear to me as I visited with a former 20-year board member of a hospice and palliative care nonprofit. She was spending her final days at this location where she could receive compassion and peace—a place that had been built 15 years ago because of her family’s personal story.
At that time, there was no locally owned, free-standing hospice house in the area. The idea and passion for such a place came from her son’s six-year battle with cancer. She and her husband had witnessed the compassionate care provided to their son at North London (England) Hospice House. On their plane ride home, the vision for the new hospice house emerged.
This became the foundation and drive which powered the new nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. This one story, shared by a caring, passionate family has not only provided thousands of families with care and competence in their final days, but it generated a new story that will continue on and inspire even more philanthropy.
May we always remember that it is the lives and stories of real people that fuels the power of philanthropy—where we can all accomplish more, together, than we ever could alone.