Nov. 5: where they awkwardly try this out and John and Jen have a fight.

Beate

Alright, everyone’s here, let’s awkwardly get the conversation topic started!

How was California and Storytelling Conference?

John

this isnt awkward at all

california is awesome. suits me just fine. sunshine, rose, palm trees, beach…

Jen

California was sunny and breezy and glorious

And the storytelling conference was awesome. Such a great community/family feel there

Beate

Were there really a thousand people there?

John

yah they had over 1,000 people. great crowd of enthusiastic learners!

gone form 250 to over 1000 in – what? 5 years?

Simon

Any surfing?

John

only on the web

Jen

Surfing? No, but lots of boats and planes

(air force town)

what’s happening in oslo and dublin?

Beate

Mittens and hats mostly

John

im really not ready for winter.

Beate

okay so you had fun but did you actually learn anything new?

Jen

One amazing thing about this conference was the dedication to donor care AND self care

John

i learned that comic sans could be the new courier

Beate

Crap

😬

Jen

the workshops were all about tactics and practical stuff you can use right now

but the plenaries were all about caring for you as a person: imposter syndrome, writing your own manifesto, vulnerability (particularly keen on that one)

Beate

what kind of tactics?

Jen

Tammy Zonker did a session about “what is the story your calendar is telling you”

about how we plan our time…

Beate

I feel like in the last ten years you haven’t been able to go to a conference without bumping into storytelling left and right. What’s left now that we’re kind of done with the buzz?

Jen

Ugh. I get a version of this question a lot. “Aren’t we “post storytelling”?

I do think some people feel that way… And until I see charities really telling stories well, that donors see themselves in, I’ll keep banging this drum

John

there is certainly more to our work than just storytelling. i agree beate. just like there is more to our work than an obsession with digital…

Beate

Well tell me what the core is, what are people doing wrong – what aren’t they doing – and what should they do to tell their stories right?

John

agree with Jen. it’s like #donorlove…

people ask if we are past that now… um…. NO

Jen

Part of it is structural. We say “time to do the year end appeal” let’s look at last year’s, “swap in a new story” and make it 5% cheaper and increase the target by 10%

Instead of saying “what’s the right story, right now, and who is the right voice for that story”

John

or – this is why we need THIS donor right now…

this is what we need them to do… this is why they might care…

all of this is hard work that goes against the grain of our check box-y society

Beate

And since Direct Mail is dead, that should happen only on digital platforms, right?

John

rrrriiigggghhhhhhtttttt

Beate

haha

Jen

it all won’t matter when AI controls us and we pay in cryptocurrency

Beate

oh god

Simon

Its just always looking for something new because we get bored. But our donors dont get bored if its good.

Jen

i say that all the time, quoting you, simon. no one complains about good fundraising, it works. donors complain about crap fundraising.

Beate

yeah, it’s like how we throw out perfectly good stories because we’re sick of them. But most of our donors did NOT see that facebookpost you put out three months ago

🙄

John

as i was talking about in San Diego… a good offer is potentially more important than a good story…

everyone is running around looking for great stories but

Beate

What do you mean by “a good offer”?

John

not sure what the story needs to do to make it a GOOD story

like – simplisitically… you $1 today will buy 3 meals for a family that needs it

$100 will send a kid to camp this summer

donor sized problems and fixes

Jen

(an offer that is made 1000000x better with a story) — john and I throw down on this issue

i agree with donor sized problems and solutions — but a good offer sits too close to “an elevator pitch” to me and makes me feel yucky inside

John

it’s not really a throw down. i’m trying to keep people focused on what makes for great and effective direct response.

Beate

hahahaha

🔥

Jen

disagree

Beate

shots fired

Jen

Jen Love: see? throwdown

Beate

Didn’t mean to start a fight😂

John

it’s not a pitch. I’m giving the donor what they need to help.

Jen

done right, it’s perfect. in the wrong hands, it’s “orgsplaining”

John

most orgs have zero idea what a good offer is or how to express it…

Beate

Moving on: Was there any talk at storytelling about how the way we communicate with our supporters might be changing?

Simon

Do they talk about different mediums?

Or is it just people raving about stories for 2 days?

Im jealous because i wasnt there

Jen

Like we hear around the world, multi channel, integration…sharing stories in different places and voices

Beate

Simon and I not being at storytelling

gif of man looking enviously through a window

John

yah – our pal Reuban talked about orgs can use video

i talked about direct mail and some digital

Jen

and there are more sessions on events too than at other conferences

so people are understanding “live storytelling” in ways that I don’t experience at other conferences

Simon

Storytelling at events?

Jen

Yep. A couple of sessions dedicated ENTIRELY to event storytelling

Simon

What does that look like?

Who is the M Night Shyamalan of nonprofit stories?

Jen

Our gal Shanon Doolittle is the expert on this, and her approach is to make sure that at every event there are natural, authentic stories being told and how that experience carries through the event follow-up, stewardship and future solicitation.

Beate

what does that mean? What’s an example of that well done?

Jen

Mark Rovner always surprises me when I hear what he’s going to say and then how he actually creates the session experience…which I guess is kinda M Night

Mark was the one a few years ago who did a whole session on “the backstory”

The day after the US election when Trump won, he asked us all to write a backstory in a paragraph or less that explained The Donald.

so is this working? is this what we wanted from this experiment?

John

lol

Jen

i feel like me and john blabbed and fought

so i guess, that’s on brand

Beate

Feel like we’re still warming up a bit

😂

Simon

I think we are finding our feet but im finding you guys interesting

Beate

haha

Okay but seriously before we all pack up – mediums – is anything changing in the way we connect with our audiences?

Is everyone starting a podcast now?

John

God.

Jen

Definitely not starting a podcast

Simon

Podcasts are peaking

John

me neither.

people hardly know how to use the channels they SHOULD be using to talk to their audiences…

i guess it’s easier to give up and go do something else?

Jen

I wish we could shift the overall conversation from channel to authenticity

i don’t give a fuck what channel you are using

but try to be real, open and authentic and you’ll raise money and be a happier fundraiser

Simon

As a podcaster I can confirm they are dumb. But also they really suit me and others sometimes depending on what we are doing. I like listening to them in planes

But i never listen to them at home

Beate

Are they though? My parents aren’t listening to podcasts yet, I’d say it’s about time for the late adopters which frankly are most of our donors

not that i’m advocating you should shift your fundraising budget into podcasting

Simon

Totes Jen. Medium is not the motivator

I mean peaking for people doing them

Its like everyone is starting one. But novelty will wear off

But audience will grow for remaining consistent podcasts

Jen

Your podcast is authentic and lovely. More like that please

Simon

Authentic = unprofessional and unedited

And thank you

❤️

Beate

podcasting and digital is the future. I think that’s a good wrap-up!

Simon

….

John

authentic = i’m showing up to be seen and i want people to see me. that is fundamentally out of line with how most people are online and offline

Simon

Whats next after digital?

Beate

My guess: No-one wants to give you their data.

John

offline

Simon

Whats next after offline?

Jen

authentic = i’m showing up to be seen and i want people to see me. that is fundamentally out of line with how most people are online and offline

Jen

AI

Simon

Or any kind of intelligence

Jen

YES!

oh goddess yes

what’s next is intelligence

Beate

LOBSTER FACT: Apparantly they pee out of their faces.

Simon

Like Jen

Jen

Every time! No matter the lobster fact

Beate

that is neither kind nor intelligent

Jen

Title of your sex tape?

Beate

hahahaha😂

100 %

Okay, anyone have any closing remarks or funnies before we call it a night / day?

Simon

I love you all

Jen

I’m here for all this

Beate

❤️

John

i need a sandwich

Beate

bye.

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