We have been working with the American Red Cross for the past six months of so. Rick Stone has been the primary member of our team working with the Red Cross and he recently took a trip to Houston for the project. As his connecting flight was pulling away from the gate in Memphis last week, the pilot came on the intercom to inform everyone that weather in Houston was quite nasty, and that there was a distinct possibility that the flight might not be able to land. To be safe, they had to pull back in to the gate and top off the fuel tanks. The flight did make it down but it was about as rough a ride as Rick has ever experienced, and the weather only got worse from there. There were flood warnings and the Red Cross was considering opening shelters in parts of the city.
How ironic—Rick’s there to work with them to help them better tell their story so folks like you and me who hear the Red Cross mentioned in almost any story that entails a disaster, but think nothing of it, will think twice and consider donating money to sustain the good work. The stats of their contributions to local, national, and international relief are staggering—in Houston alone they respond to over 700 house or apartment fires a year. That’s two a day. While the assistance they provide to families who have been devastated by the loss of everything in a fire is routine for them, the meaning and relevance of their help has monumental importance for the people they serve. Unfortunately, the Red Cross is not alone when it comes to not adequately telling their story. Nearly every nonprofit we have run into, from big organizations down to small endeavors, is deficient in preparing their staff and volunteers to effectively tell their story to the people that matter—their donor base. And the same is true of for-profit companies. It’s what we call the organization’s Narrative Assets—perhaps the most valuable thing in a company next to its people. So, are you capitalizing on your Narrative Assets and putting them to work to build greater support or sell your customers?