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Mission Moments

By January 12, 2011December 3rd, 2014Best of Withisms, Communication, Fundraising, Storytelling

What if you could have a team or an army of people who talk about your organization every day? People who were proud to share stories about the impact of the life-changing work being done at your organization? Telling stories so compelling people who hear them want to take action and give their time or financial support?

It’s a simple but powerful tool I often recommend to organizations I work with, begin a practice of holding a “mission moment” at meetings and gatherings with staff and board.

I define a “mission moment” as any example of how your organization is making an impact. It’s an example about a real person, family, or human situation.

  • It can be a board member telling how they felt to participate at your recent fundraising event.
  • It can be a staff person talking about the family that got turned away that day.
  • It can be a volunteer saying thank you for allowing them to “work” with your organization.

Mission moments are short, inspirational examples of your work that put a face on what you do. They are stories and examples that can be repeated by others because they are not too long. They are inspiring and often give visibility to something you’d like to do more of but due to limited resources you simply can’t do all that you’d like.weddingtoast2

I recently heard a mission moment about Neal, a young man with Down Syndrome who, after a great deal of support in a residential housing environment, made a toast at his brother’s wedding — to a room of 200 people! Making a toast in front of lots of people can scare many of us, but the work done at this organization made it possible for Neal to feel great, be prepared, and able to share in a special family event. The telling of the story of his toast was a memorable moment for Neal and for the organization that provides him ongoing care and support.

The story was shared in such a way that listeners wanted to learn more about how to help. That’s what I call a powerful mission moment.

So, how to begin?
1. Make time at each staff, board, and committee meeting. Ask for someone to share an example of a “mission moment.” (You may have to be the first example to show people how to do it.)
2. Just one “mission moment” shared at each meeting is plenty.
3. Rotate who shares.
4. Keep the sharing to literally a minute or two at the most.
5. No rules about what the mission moment is about.
6. Get people talking and connecting about real people and real feelings.

This is also a great activity to kick off a one-on-one donor visit. Ask THEM if they have an example of a mission moment for why they support your organization. OR you share a short example of your work as a mission moment to connect the donor to something fresh and new about your organization.

The moments shared do not always have to have a happy ending. But they DO always have to cause people to feel something.

Start today. It will change things. I promise. And you WILL build an army of people who share powerful stories about your organization.


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This post was included in Withism’s from Lori: Boldness, Clarity & Wisdom for Fundraising Professionals Making a Difference (Volume 1), now available in paperback, on Kindle, and Nook.

 

 

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17 Comments

  • We incorporate mission moments into 99% of our fundraising auctions. It takes some thought / time to work with the speaker and craft it well. But the great thing is that a memorable story will be remembered and retold.

    For instance, in December I was the auctioneer at a homeless shelter gala in Miami which raised something like $1.7 million. The mission moment was a man who told his story about losing his house, becoming homeless, but now learning a new trade and – with his young daughter in tow – getting on his feet. He concluded: “It’s not a big check,” he said, “But every month I write a check to for my gratitude.”

  • Sandy Rees says:

    This is a powerful way to spread the word about a nonprofit. I often suggest to Boards that they should begin each Board meeting with someone sharing a story about a person the nonprofit has helped. It’s a great way to kick off the meeting on the right foot.

    Sandy

  • Karen says:

    I like how you recommend ritualizing ‘missing moments’ w/every meeting. The more people get used to hearing examples, the more they will be able to quickly identify (and package) their own.

  • I’m really thrilled that this post resonated with so many people! Thank you all for your posts, great comments & retweets! It appears many of you really ARE building armies of ambassadors.

  • The powerful stories we hear everyday from staff, clients and volunteers is what makes me love my job, keeps me grounded and easy to share how we impact peoples lives. Thanks for the reminders to keep sharing the stories.

  • Diana DuBois says:

    Thanks for the article on creating ‘mission moments.’ We will begin to incorporate them into our staff and board meetings.

  • Bilal says:

    Our organization has so many great mission moments. I think this is a great way to start and filter through the stories that are just itching to be widely shared.

  • Sharon says:

    This seems like a great way to build commitment and a way for board and staff to be prepared for public encounters with a new story to tell.

  • CCRIJody says:

    I come to each board meeting and share a mission moment. We have quite a few new members and I think it’s a great way to engage them in our work. I will have to start asking our board members if they have a mission moment that they would like to share. At one of our events, a community member who had attended one of our hard-hat tours was sharing a story I had told him a few months back with a group of individuals new to our work. It was fantastic!

  • Rick says:

    It seems a good vehicle for reminding ourselves why we are doing this, how the organization improves people’s lives and the work ahead.

  • Shannon says:

    CCRI’s Development Director now attends every Board meeting and shares a mission moment. In addition is a Board member has participated in one of our events he/she will share a moment as well. This has been a great way to ensure our board members always have a moment to share.

  • Alyssa says:

    This has been on my list of ideas for how to build a culture of philanthropy within our organization and now I’ve been here long enough that I think I can start trying to incorporate it into some of the meetings I have with other departments! It would be great to hear stories from others!

  • Laura says:

    A good way to remind/inspire all stakeholders that this is why we do what we do. Thanks!

  • Angela says:

    This is an important reminder to me about holding on to valuable insight into the work we do. Too many times people share their feelings about our organization and those stories aren’t captured or shared adequately. I intend to keep a journal with these insights from now on so I can “Pass it on”.

  • Katrina says:

    Since we hold staff meetings every week, this is a great idea for how to start incorporating storytelling in our everyday work and to engage staff that might not otherwise be involved in fundraising.

  • Sarah says:

    When I see our staff that are in direct delivery of our program, I ask them how things are going and often get information that can become a great mission moment.

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