September 9, 2012

Storytelling is so important to fundraising. Storytelling is so important to human connection and conversation. Storytelling is just so important.

“We live in stories the way fish live in water,”says Daniel Taylor in a book called Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories. We “breath them in and out. Stories “buoy and feed us.”

Robert Fulford sees storytelling as “the juncture where facts and feelings meet, the bundle in which we wrap the truth, hope and dread.” Fulford explains that narrative is how we explain and teach and entertain ourselves.

We tell stories about situations and causes and other people. We also create stories about ourselves and share them through our need for self-disclosure. (See the companion piece in today’s blog…self-disclosure and neuroscience.)

Dan McAdams says, “Narratives guide behavior in every moment, and frame not only how we see the past but how we see ourselves in the future…. We find that when it comes to the big choices people make…they draw on these stories implicitly…”

I read all this in Pat Thompson’s great piece “Being the Change We Want,” May 2009, focusing on vocational renewal. Read Thompson’s monograph. It’s wonderful!

And here’s something I heard on NPR, also about storytelling: “True as remembered by the storyteller.” I don’t remember if I heard that on NPR or read it somewhere.

So I’m telling you a story. Or you’re telling me a story. Is the story true? Yes…it is the truth that I remember…my understanding and interpretation of the situation and the characters and the struggle and the triumph… True as I remember it – and I’m telling the story. Or you’re telling the story.

I tell stories of the Vietnam War, a seminal period of my life. I tell the stories one way. And then I was checking with my brother Alain and he told some of the stories a different way. True, as told by each of us as a different storyteller.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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