Your Nonprofit's Authenticity Invites Audiences to Connect with Your Work and Impact
The universe of communicators is all abuzz about authenticity. But what the heck is authenticity, and how do you put it to work for your nonprofit?
I see authenticity communications-wise as being honest, direct and truthful, and conveying those values via accessible, straightforward messaging. True accessibility gives your audiences a way into what your organization really does and contributes to the communities it serves, rather than what you say you’re doing.
It’s the difference between a cocktail party conversation with someone very closed, and someone more open, with whom you can get into a meaningful conversation on a topic important to both of you. With the closed-up party goer, you’re frustrated and somewhat bored since you can’t get below the surface. A few minutes of chitchat is all you can take, then you’re off to refill your drink.
But with the person you can really talk to, time flies by. That person is being authentic, sharing herself with you. You both let down your usual filters, opening the door to a real connection.
Storytelling — another hottie for today’s communicators — is one of the best ways of conveying authenticity. You let your clients or program participants showcase the impact of your work. And, through relating your work via individuals — people with faces, families and work lives — you make it easy for your audiences can connect with your organization, emotionally and intellectually.
While on that famous family reunion/vacation last week, we heard some very compelling stories. The voices of these Deep Creek residents continue to resonate in our minds, even as the vacation fades. They were authentic as they shared these experiences, responses, successes and struggles:
- Medicinal herb grower Nancy-Elizabeth Nimmich told us of working with neighbors to try to limit area development, and her fight to find and keep volunteers for the effort. Her tales about learning more about herbal healing from locals via her hospice volunteer work were compelling.
- Winemaker Paul Roberts shared his struggles to find grapes that grow well in the tiny alpine climate of western MD where he operates Deep Creek Cellars.
- Miller John Childers recounted his adventures over 50 years of milling as the last of 7 generations of millers, and his quest to bring Stanton’s Mill back to life. Childers recently restored the water-wheel which now serves as the mill’s primary power source. Today, Stanton’s Mill is one of the last true community mills, providing services
to local Amish who bring in their grain on a regular basis.
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