I love a good story, as most people do. That’s what makes being a fundraiser so great. I get to tell stories as part of my job.
My “first” career was that of an actor. I loved being onstage and changing people’s lives after they left the theatre – after hearing a good story. When 9/11 came, I decided to take a turn in my career path. I knew I wanted to stay in the arts, but what could I do that would be as fulfilling as a performing career? What could I do for a living that would make a difference in the lives of others?
I started to research arts administration and began working as a fundraiser. The more I worked and learned about this type of work, the more it became like acting or being a storyteller. Through grant writing, I could put my story on paper. But, it was when I started working directly with individuals and corporations that the fun really started. I began speaking to individual, corporate executives and various service groups about the organizations I worked for – not only telling folks about the organization, its mission, and the importance of its presence in the community, but I was then able to tell a story. A story about someone involved with the organization that had been transformed for the better thanks to programs provided by that group, or I had the opportunity to give a personal testimonial about my own my experiences in the arts.
There’s power in a good story. Long after the specific facts from your organization have slipped from the individual’s mind, your story will linger, and they will share it with others.
A story should always convey the emotional soul of the work of your organization powerfully every time that story is told. It may be a true story about one particular person or group or it may be a combination of several stories of real people whose lives have been changed by your organization.
Your story should move you every time you tell it. And if it does, it will move those listening and inspire them to invest in your organization.
Chase Law is Senior Development Officer at the Arts & Science Council, and Storyteller-in-Chief.