“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms,” wrote poet Muriel Rukeyser. This is especially true of the philanthropy universe, where stories are the way the sector functions: nonprofits have stories about communities, grantmakers have stories about missions, and philanthropists have personal stories about passions. Stories are the commodity of philanthropy.
But what is the value of that commodity? How do nonprofits learn to tell their stories effectively, so that grantmakers see and believe in missions that move people? It’s one thing to have a program, but another thing altogether to have a purpose. Stories tell us the purpose, and philanthropy needs to invest in those stories to share the sector’s purpose with the rest of the world.
In this issue of GMNsight, we look at storytelling as a necessary function of philanthropy. What is storytelling, and why does it matter? Who is doing it, and who is doing it well? How can we do it better, and what will better storytelling achieve for philanthropy?