Powerful stories can advance your mission and enable others to share your vision. Ann, the ED of a Family Resource Center brought a picture to our planning meeting. It was of a child in a complicated wheel chair made up of knobs, rests, and the intricate structure required to assist him in his everyday life. All eyes were riveted on the photo. You could hear a pin drop in the room while we all thought about his situation. Then she began. “He is the happiest child you ever want to meet”.
Ann proceeded to talk about his personal growth, his smile, and the sparkle in his eyes. Her stories were of his joy, excitement and experience as a child in the program. She could have asked for and gotten anything from us that she wanted.
The magic of the human experience; overcoming tremendous physical, mental, and financial obstacles; is so compelling that it opens hearts, minds, and pocketbooks. Added to an “ask” along with “what we need” can keep the hardest numbers person to move from being a roadblock to funding. This enables them to become an advisor on how to “make the numbers work”; providing a door opening for an organization.
So, how do you make the best of this concept? Ann asked me to coach her through a presentation before a County Supervisors meeting. She was to follow the presentation of another organization known for their strong business presentation skills and comprehensive research and numbers analysis.
I advised her to go with her strengths. So, after the agency completed the exceptional multi-media presentation that was everything that she feared, Ann began by giving everyone in the room a rock.
A simple, smooth stone with an “S” painted on one side and a “C” painted on the other. While we held the stones, looked at the letters and sometimes rubbed them like worry beads; she told stories of children and families passing through the Center. She talked about the “S” and the “C” which were part of the name of the Center, but also about other powerful concepts they utilized that also started with those letters.
Yes, she included the numbers, but I think most people forgot them or used them to calculate resource usage like they should be used. We remembered the people that the Center was helping.
Ann’s organization received everything it needed.