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On Wednesday 27th November, the 2019 peer mentoring cohort met in London to attend a training session led by Findacure trustee Andy Milligan, which focused on branding, marketing and how small charities can get their stories heard.

Often when we hear the phrase ‘storytelling’ we think of fiction, fantasy and fairy tales of the likes of JRR Tolkien, rather than of an effective method to get our personal and organisational message across. However, storytelling happens all around us every day, on the TV, in the office and on billboards and flyers. Stories are what inform us of people’s lives, hopes, goals and fears and are also the most valuable insight into what organisations strive to achieve. Alongside this, stories allow us to engage with the world from different viewpoints; something that is very important when it comes to rare disease organisations. If properly told, stories are one of the best ways to get people interested about what we and our organisations, are doing and saying. For charities and patient groups, storytelling is important as it allows for their emotive history to be moulded into an effective branding strategy and encourage engagement in the change they are trying to create.

But how can we be equipped to best tell our stories? In the busyness of fundraising applications, reports and events planning that take up charities time, it can be easy to forget your organisations DNA, the ‘why are we really here and what should people know about us?’

Andy encouraged us to all take a step back from these everyday stresses to focus specifically on this question and formulate our stories around this. This proved very useful for clarifying the story of our organisations and redefining the direction of our goals, what we want our audience to know and what we want them to do as a result. He also encouraged us to minimise our vision to just three things that are the most important. In order to get people to actually listen it is important that our stories pack a punch and therefore should be based on what your organisation aspires to be. People will only go the extra mile for you if you aspire to do it for yourself.

Most of all, we learnt on that day that the best way to convince others of your story is to be rehearsed in it yourself. Storytelling, like anything else is something that requires practice, skill and trial and error; you might not get it spot on straight away but keep trying. Take some time out of your day to clarify with your team what your story is and why people should care, create a strategy and make sure everyone knows what the story is to avoid those awkward elevator situations. In the hectic world that we live in it can be difficult to get our point across as conversations can be easily forgotten, yet good stories are always remembered. 


For more examples of successful story telling visit:

Storytelling for patient groups

by Philippa Norman time to read: 3 min