Yesterday morning I facilitated a workshop at the Girl Scouts conference. It was a great opportunity for councils to dive into what stories they can tell, the messages they should use, and how to get those stories in front of donor audiences.
As we opened the workshop, I shared my Girl Scout story.
I am a Girl Scout alumnae and a Lifetime member. I joined Girl Scouts when I was 7 years old. My parents moved from the Bay Area to the Sacramento region, and my mom thought that Girl Scouts would be a great way for me to make new friends. And it was. I made lots of friends. We moved again the next year and shortly after I found another troop to join, and my mom became more involved in troop leadership and eventually my leader.
Girl Scouts was an amazing opportunity for me as a child and teen. I had so many opportunities and experiences that none of my peers had. I learned outdoor skills, did science experiments and participated in community service projects. I learned essential leadership skills and practiced being a leader. In fact in my last 2 years of high school, I helped co-lead a troop.
Reflecting back on my experiences, I know that while all of those activities were fun, what I was really learning were skills that have stuck with me for life; leadership, confidence, creativity, and compassion. All of these skills have helped me as a college student, in my career, and now as a business owner.
As a kid I had two forays into entrepreneurship. One where I made handmade cards and sold them from a booth on our front lawn. After sitting out there for 6 hours with no sales to speak of, my dad became my first and only customer. Later on in high school, I started sewing and selling handbags. This project cropped up as a result of work I was doing on a Girl Scout badge. It was an incredible experience for me. I sold my bags at a craft fair, to friends at school, and family members. I thrived on the creativity that it brought into my life. I’m not sure I would have ever had that experience had Girl Scouts not pushed my boundaries.
Girl Scouts has had a pretty tremendous impact on me, and I hope that one day when I have kids one of them will be interested in Girl Scouts.
But here’s the thing – I’ve never told anyone this story before. Ever. This story premiered at the Girl Scout conference, and honestly if I wasn’t speaking there I’m not sure I would have ever told it to anyone.
Now, I know I’m not the only former Girl Scout who has a story to share. There are millions of us. But Girl Scouts, like many non-profits, is facing a big question – how can we capture and tell more of these stories?
Maya Angelou once said, “There is no great agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I think this quote perfect captures this problem that many non-profits are facing.
On one hand, we know that we have lots of untold stories. On the other hand, we are dealing with the agony of not telling them and the consequences that can have on our fundraising programs.
What are your untold stories?
If you only do one thing today, do this. Tell one of those untold stories.
Interview someone. Have conversations. Get inspired by your work. Then allow others to be inspired by telling them that story.