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Great storytelling: Best practices for advancement


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Storytelling is a key strategy for establishing and sustaining relationships with donors, current and prospective. The purpose of this paper is to explore connections to the century-long public library storytelling in the field of Library and Information Science (LIS) and identify best practices for advancement work. Analysis of 20 interviews with advancement professionals — part of a larger Storytelling at Work project of over 100 interviews — reveals advancement best practices related to library storytelling. Interviewees include advancement professionals at all stages of their career development, from new hires to seasoned leaders. Findings demonstrate that storytelling can inform every stage of the advancement process — including gathering narratives, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship — so that development officers become inspiring tellers of tales. This paper provides a framework to support new advancement professionals to be more strategic in their storytelling and, at the same time, provoke seasoned professionals to analyse how they weave storied relationships.

Keywords: advancement; connection; donor; libraries; listening; relationship; storytelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign 2: Assistant Director of Clinical Partnerships, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Publication date: December 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Education Advancement & Marketing is the major new professional journal publishing in-depth, peer-reviewed articles and case studies on advancement, development, alumni relations, fundraising, marketing and communications for educational institutions. Content will be written by and for professionals in the field with no advertising or sales pitches.

    Each quarterly 100-page issue – published both in print and online – will feature detailed, practical articles which showcase the latest thought leadership in how to identify, build and steward life-long relationships with alumni, businesses and other donors, along with actionable advice and ‘lessons learned’ on advancement, development, marketing and communications strategy for educational institutions. It will not publish advertising but rather detailed analysis of new thinking and practice at a wide range of universities, colleges and schools worldwide for readers to benchmark their organization against, with every article being peer-reviewed by an expert Editorial Board to ensure that it focuses on the advancement professional’s perspective, the challenges they face and how they can tackle them.

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