Storytelling: The Secret Sauce of Fundraising Success is the first book by CGP Chair Lynn Malzone Ierardi, J.D.
Lynn Malzone Ierardi’s book, Storytelling: The Secret Sauce of Fundraising Success, offers practical advice on ways fundraisers can improve their use of this key cultivation tool. A seasoned professional with a wide breadth of experience, Ierardi’s insights draw from her own experiences, as well as her knowledge of best practices in both storytelling and fundraising.
“Good stories trigger feelings—such as happiness, sadness, anger, or empathy,” she writes near the beginning of her book. “Perhaps most importantly, a good story influences our behavior.” Indeed, Ierardi harkens back to this theme throughout the book, reinforcing the idea that good stories trigger philanthropic decisions.
One of the book’s strongest points is its call to action for fundraisers to embrace the mission of their organizations, as well as the stories behind those missions. Most fundraisers – professional staff, founders, and volunteers alike – know and believe fervently in the missions of the organizations they call home. However, Ierardi rightfully and compellingly calls on everyone to learn the stories behind the inception, founding, and mission development of their organizations.
Included in the book are examples of compellingly told stories, both from the world of fundraising and from elsewhere. The examples from fundraising resonate most strongly and originate from a variety of non-profit organizations. Some of the stories involve planned gift instruments like charitable remainder trusts, but overall the book speaks to a more general audience.
The most valuable parts of the book – at least, for this reader – arrived in chapter six, when Ierardi describes how and why to develop a storytelling culture at your organization. It is a group effort, not simply one person’s responsibility. “You increase your organization’s capacity for storytelling,” Ierardi writes, “by building a team of storytellers.” Generously, Ierardi also provides tools and examples in the appendices that readers can use themselves to collect stories and to begin to shape storytelling cultures at their own organizations.
Regardless of whether the ideas and concepts in Storytelling are new to you, they are presented in a thoughtfully composed manner and accompanied by germane examples that could benefit any fundraiser seeking to hone their storytelling chops.
By Michael Davis, M.B.A., C.T.F.A.
Michael Davis is a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at US Bank Charitable Services, where he works with philanthropic individuals and families to help put their charitable vision in action for their communities. Michael works with nonprofit organizations to facilitate significant gifts of assets that will enable their missions and provide long term financial strength for the organizations. Previously, he has worked in gift planning programs at Lewis & Clark College and Reed College. He currently serves as the president of the Northwest Planned Giving Roundtable.