Three Reasons Stories Matter In Philanthropy

by Nicole Newman, Contributing Writer


nar·ra·tive- a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.

Stories help us to understand both the world around us and each other. They give us glimpses into the humanity that is present in each of us and help us to explain what motivates, what hurts us and what we desire. Each of us processes a story of self.

We have all had times of challenge, obstacles and crisis and we have all overcome them to become the people we are today. However, we never really have spaces to share our stories in the public sphere. Our society has become very transactional and sharing stories has become secondary to “getting things done.” But there is something that happens when we share our stories that deepen our connections.

Here’s why narratives in the giving space matters:

Image1. Mutuality is important to building trust relationships

If you are mentoring ayoung boy, volunteering at a homeless shelter or trying to decide where to give your money, it is often the story of that person or organization that attracts us. We are connected to causes because of elements of our own journey. Whenever we engage in any of those acts it is important to share why we care. It helps to create mutuality between people. No one wants to feel like the only reason you’re doing charity is because you have to. Sharing your own story builds trust.

2. Vulnerability is a forgotten art form

Brene Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” This is central to owning the power of our own stories.

3. Stories are transformative

Sometimes our beliefs and ideas are formed by our own experiences. When we hear someone else and listen to their story we can experience the world differently through that person’s firsthand account. Stories open our minds to a different way of thinking.

So the next time you meet with someone or engage in service, listen to a person’s narrative and be willing to share your own. Both are powerful and can change how we engage each other- and the world.

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