Q: I work for a domestic violence organization and we are interested in using the Benevon Model.
One of the things our board has been hung up on is the concern for confidentiality in sharing stories about clients and former clients at the Point of Entry.
I'm sure you have seen this with other organizations, and I would love any ideas you can suggest on how to be effective with the model while still honoring the need for confidentiality.
Sara in Georgia
A: The Benevon Model has been very effective for many domestic violence organizations and other nonprofits who have a need for confidentiality.
Even for organizations without confidentiality issues, finding great stories that highlight the impact of your programs and services can be tricky.
Below are the tried and true strategies that we have found are most effective for any organization working to create a sizzling Point of Entry, including those who must maintain client confidentiality.
- Use alternative mediums for telling stories.
- In lieu of a live testimonial, have an audio recording or a letter that is written in the client’s voice.
- If done well, either would convey the person’s situation when they came to your organization and the impact you have had on their life.
- You can change details like the name to be sure guests would not be able to identify the person.
- Having the first-person perspective is one of the most important elements in great storytelling, and this is a way to have that come through even if the person cannot tell their story live.
- Consider having someone on your staff, board, or Benevon team share their story.
- You likely have people who truly feel it’s a calling to be involved with your organization. That calling and passion for the mission may come from their own personal experience. They lived in a household with a lot of violence growing up or had a parent who struggled with mental health, for example.
- Maybe they got the support they needed, or went without it. Either way, they know the impact of your work and the way you help to change lives.
- The final testimonial really does need to be a live story, so this is a great option for filling that element of the Point of Entry, in addition to telling stories throughout the rest of the program.
- Engage your staff in what you are doing with the Benevon Model so that they will be your partners in identifying great stories.
- Your staff are on the front lines—who better to help you find people who not only have a great story to tell, but who might be willing to share it?
- Consider adding a program person to your Benevon team.
- Once you design a Point of Entry, bring your staff through the tour and follow up with them one-on-one.
- Ask for their advice and feedback! Show them the impact of getting the word out in the community and raising support for your mission from individual donors.