Many, many months ago, I wrote a question on a post-it note and stuck it to my bulletin board. The note reads, “What does story of self look like for fundraisers?”
I asked this question at a time when I was exploring new edges of my work. My curiosity led me to think more about personal storytelling for non-profit professionals. How do we tell our stories? Amidst all of the stories we tell about other people, I wondered how we could proactively add our own voices to the mix. So I wrote this post-it note, and then drifted away from the idea for a while.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I spent many months this year working through my own narrative in counselling and through self-study. In retrospect, I’d like to think that I was somehow intuitively led to personally practice and explore this work before I started talking to others about it. It was tough work. There were a lot of tears. But it was so worth it.
As I have eased myself into a bolder practice of personal storytelling, it’s led me to tell more of my stories in speeches, my weekly emails and here on the blog. It has led to some amazing conversations with people about our lives and work. I wrote about this effect a few weeks ago if you want to read more about it.
With Thanksgiving upon us and the end of the year nearing, I find myself entering my yearly reflection process a little earlier than usual. But that’s okay. As I was reflecting on this year in all of its wild beauty, and specifically, the incredible confluence that I am experience in my work right now. Thinking about this, I found myself coming back to the word “gratitude” again and again.
I am so grateful to do this work. I can’t imagine doing anything else. This work has changed who I am for the better. It has helped me be more courageous, a little bolder, and a lot more vulnerable.
I am grateful for the 10,000+ people who read my blog every month. I am grateful for all of the people who read my weekly emails, which are sometimes raw.
I am especially grateful for all of the people who email me throughout the year with their own stories and thoughts about non-profit work. My post-it note question was the result of dozens of conversations that I had with people about their struggles and triumphs. It was all of those people who inspire my work, and made me realize what the core purpose of my work really is. The core purpose of my work is to help people experience their personal power when they tell their story, and to have the experience of being seen and heard.
Yes, I might talk about storytelling as being a great fundraising tool. But the truth is that I see storytelling as being tool for people to be their authentic self. In my book, the fact that it helps non-profits raise money is just an added bonus.
Arriving at this understanding has been nothing short of transformational for me. It represents the confluence of many things in my life. But most of all, it reminds me that my work (this work) does not happen in a vacuum. I am forever grateful for the conversations I have, the email exchanges, social media conversations, and so on that contribute to and enrich my work.
This week, I really just want to say thank you to you.
Lisa Hartley says
wonderful writing Vanessa!