• David Oaks

Don't Have Any Stories? MAKE 'EM UP!

Updated: Jun 18



Not only do I coach and consult with nonprofit leaders, pastors and missionaries for their fundraising, I am also a nonprofit leader. I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit formed along with a group of passionate people devoted to raising up leaders in the Middle East.


A large part of our vision for raising up leaders in the Middle East involves a K-12th grade, English immersion school. Our goal is to give students the vision for their gifts and talents in one of the seven areas of culture (Read more here).


Our organization is barely two years old. It began just prior to the world being shut down from Covid-19.


That’s right. We just got started when the world shut us down.


Doing much of anything has been close to impossible. My January boots on the ground strategic planning was destroyed. The vision for securing property in the first month of 2021 was smashed. Our plans to start the first classes in the fall of 2021 are all dissed!


Well, If you have followed me much, you know I teach that stories are the currency that nonprofit leaders collect in order to pay their donors (Read more here). But what do you do when you are shut down and you don’t have stories to tell? Answer: You make ‘em up!


Lesson: What do you do when you are shut down and you don't have stories to tell?


Answer: You make 'em up!


That is the strategy I used in my last email to our donors to The Bethlehem International School Foundation.


Now, most of the stories you will use in fundraising and team building will be true stories of actual people and the impact your mission has had on their lives. But, there is a place for made up stories as well.


This approach helps your followers appreciate why it is important to listen, understand, and adopt any changes in your mission strategy and plans. This storytelling technique can turn what might seem boring into something readers are eager to hear and assimilate.


The goal is to help your readers see your current situation as visionary–not ordinary.


Of course, the very first goal is to get your followers to pay attention! But once they are paying attention, your visionary super-powers kick in!


Remember, visionaries rule the world.

Visionaries always get the resources they need.

Visionaries change the world (for a refresher in vision, (READ HERE).


This is where storytelling really works for you. This story, when well crafted, will create a picture of the future so inspiring that it drives people to action. One VERY important thing, the story must be personal to the readers. They need to see themselves in the future you describe.


Lesson: Your made up story must be personal to the readers. They must see themselves in the future you describe.


My story…(inspired and adapted from The Vision: A Day In The Life Of A Sales Forcaster, Lead With A Story).


Dream with me about what a day in the life of a student in the Bethlehem International School could look like. I would love to know your ideas after reading it. The story represents all the major components of our vision. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings about how the story might be different.
Haneen is a senior in the Bethlehem International School. She is so excited about her future. For many years the school has challenged her, upon graduation, to consider her place of service as a leader in Middle Eastern culture. Since childhood, she has always dreamed of being a television news reporter.
Her dream began in her elementary years when an international team of guests visited the school. These teams were part of the school’s mission to facilitate interdependent friendships across borders and boundaries. The members of these teams saw themselves as ambassadors to the next generation.
As was the usual protocol, each of the members of the team held informal gatherings where they shared their career choice with the students. They were always careful to explain how they wrestled to become professionals in their field. They always offered extra time to interact with interested students in a leader’s home, over a meal, if they wanted. The female reporter inspired Haneen. She quickly made the arrangements for her and her parents to eat a meal that evening with the lady.
Around a table filled with Palestinian delights, Haneen got to interact with the female news reporter personally. Her heart burned as she listened to the reporter’s journey into her profession. It inspired her how the lady practiced her news reporting as a missionary, being “salt” and “light” in the world.
Of all the seven areas that the school highlighted and pressed the students to find their role in, business, government, media, entertainment, family, education and religion, serving as a news reporter in media set Haneen’s heart on fire.
The female news reporter offered to be a friend and mentor to Haneen and the other students whose hearts set them on fire to follow her example. They began a lifelong relationship as they formed their own small group and began meeting online.
Through the years Haneen’s small group thrilled as the female news reporter made more visits to Palestine. On each visit, more young girls’ hearts were inspired to follow the group and their passion. She even became a mentor to other younger girls who were now dreaming of playing a leadership role in the cultural area of media.
Having superior English and Arabic skills puts her at the front of the line for any educational and economic opportunity that should come her way. Having experienced the value of excellence through her educational journey at her school, she now embraces it as a way of life.
Haneen and her family continually thank God for the many unknown donors who generously gave their resources to see leaders like her raised up through Bethlehem International School.
She can’t wait to live her dream as a faith-filled news reporter and do for others what they did for her!

There you go! Don’t have any stories to tell? MAKE ‘EM UP!


David


P.S. Do you need help envisioning the end result of your mission? Many leaders have told me that my resource, A Boring Vision, The Biggest Thing That Will Keep You From Becoming Your Donor's Favorite Charity has helped them. I made it with you in mind, AND it's free! GET IT HERE.



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