Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Telling the Story

Sunshine knifed through a square of broken glass. The rays pierced my eyes one at a time. I shifted a few inches causing the blinding light to search for me on my pillow. The whiteness of the light seared hazy images into my groggy mind. Slowly reality was coming back; I was safely asleep in a cottage on the beach. The sun was my wake-up call.

Copywriters love to tell a story. They want to involve you quickly with a sympathetic character that may be just like you are.  Picture you waking up on the beach, forgetting the night before, soon to be reconnected with the day.

In my grant writing career which spans decades, not! I have developed the love for creating a fictional story which centers on the reason a proposal is being submitted; telling a tale to make a difference in the readers’ perspective of the same –o-same-o proposal submission.

Now I am not saying to completely fictionalize a story. I believe there is a defining narrative for your nonprofit’s existence. The Mission statement does not always tell the REAL tale. Summaries, biographies, past experience, funded projects and evaluations of how the funds were used previously do not usually include the story of why your organization is what it is.

Day to day operations get in the way. Following the guidelines to the tip of the edge is important, it is very true, but how do we get the uniqueness of who we are to sing a subtle note or two where otherwise our tune would go unheard?

The story of our nonprofit’s uniqueness is necessary if we are to gain a valuable edge of any kind. Keenly we must state the unobvious by bringing attention to a real story of need. One where the act of funding will change the face of the details to a completely different outcome. A story where everyone is cheering when the winner is announced.

The Winner!

Wow, how often do we hear the funder’s choices announced as the winners? Though that is exactly who the proposal writers responding to the funder’s RFP becomes.

Don’t you agree?

In one of Stephen King’s four part novelettes, there is an opening in one of them where the story’s location is in the entrance of a very well heeled men’s club. An exclusive club, offering chess, books, libations and mutual enjoyment to a highly successful minority of the upper crust. These men lounge, dine and sit in a luxurious glowing fireplace setting.

Upon entering this impressive club, one is greeted by the presence of a massive stone fireplace. Over the mantle is a large engraved metal sign. It simply states “It is not the story; it is the teller of the tale.

If a cover letter is not requested by the proposal’s guidelines, creating one may still be in your nonprofit’s best interest. Capture the heart and soul of your readers in the opening moments when you meet on paper. Tell the story with your unique personality which otherwise would never be heard. Through the entire proposal process much like repeating the refrain from a piece of popular music to induce a particular mood, return ever so lightly to your reader with a reminder of your beginning story.

Weaving the vein with your nonprofit’s total individuality throughout the proposal will have the funder not only remembering who you are but why they want to fund your cause.

Tell your story every time. You may discover a world of ears have been waiting to hear your tale.

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