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Telling YOUR Story: Lessons for Nonprofits from the Leadership Advance Conference

Inside a ballroom along the Columbia River, more than 250 professionals from across the northwest spend the better part of a morning analyzing the Disney/Pixar classic film Ratatouille. The session, led by Andy Crouch of the Templeton Foundation, served as the kickoff to the 2017 Leadership Advance Conference, hosted by the Murdock Trust.

For several years, the Leadership Advance Conference has served as a valuable learning opportunity for executive and senior-level leaders representing a wide variety of backgrounds, including nonprofit, business and faith-based organizations. Previous conferences have centered on themes such as developing and leading a team, understanding a rapidly evolving culture and establishing the personality of a leader.

In 2017, the primary message of the two-day event for Pacific Northwest organizations centered on the importance of storytelling. Like Hollywood blockbusters that sink or swim based on their ability to share a compelling plot, nonprofits largely succeed or fail based on how well they can convey their own story to a targeted audience. Each organization must serve as its own protagonist, clearly articulating the challenge it wishes to address, the obstacles it faces and how supporters can step in and help the cause in various ways along the journey.

These techniques were covered in great detail through workshops, small group discussion and keynote presentations. Whether constructing the story on behalf of an organization or defining a personal narrative to establish a position in the thought leadership space, attendees were reminded of the critical elements of a successful story and learned new tricks and strategies for sharing their own tale with their constituents.

As an added bonus, this year’s conference included sessions with the winners of the 2017 Ignite Film Showcase. In its inaugural year, the Showcase seeks to honor emerging filmmakers with original and existing films that illuminate and explore the human condition with creativity, compassion and respect. Touching a variety of themes and utilizing a wide range of styles, this year’s entries provided incredible examples of the myriad ways individuals and groups can bring compelling stories to life from the smallest corners of the world. Stay tuned to our blog for more detail on this year’s winners.

The team at the Murdock Trust would like to thank all of our partners and presenters who helped make this year’s conference a success. We look forward to seeing you again in 2018!