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Case Study

CHHSM

Using Narrative Practices to Enliven Heritage

Challenge

How does a faith-based nonprofit association engage members who are separated by geography and sector and busy with the demands of their own organizations?

Solution

Create compelling reasons to connect by sharing stories of common purpose, transformation and hope. Lead through story.

CHHSM

Client Since

2006

Located In

Cleveland, OH

Website

www.chhsm.org

Scope of Services

Worn down by challenging work and isolated by geography, nonprofit leaders need to know they’re not alone.

We use story to connect the members of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ (CHHSM). Though separated by location and nonprofit sector, leaders find in our storytelling shared purpose, transferable models for ministry, applicable lessons, and more — all reasons to form community together.

When it comes to marketing and building associations like CHHSM, we flip the conventional approach. Instead of pushing programs and services to members, we start with the members’ stories. CHHSM refers to this as “following the energy.” For us it’s about paying attention to the good work already underway, then inquiring into how the association can support that movement and leverage it.

This innovative approach inspires all of our work with CHHSM — from the launch of the its website to design of its leadership formation program, the Nollau Institute. The result is a growing community of leaders who feel bound to each other and, therefore, invested in CHHSM.

Since 2012 CHHSM’s Twitter following has risen 862 percent. And Facebook group membership has increased by 162 percent.

“The value Signal Hill has contributed as part of our community of service cannot be quantified.”

— Bryan Sickbert, retired CHHSM president and CEO

CHHSM president and CEO Michael Readinger says he’s excited by the growth.

“Since we moved to a fresh site with content presented in a more interesting storytelling format, we have seen significantly increased traffic to our electronic newsletter, our website and our social media communications," he says. "The website is accessed regularly by many members of the wider church outside of our members and the clickthroughs to read our content is above the industry standard. I highly recommend Signal Hill as a resource.”

Bryan Sickbert, retired president and CEO, says our impact goes beyond mere numbers to something much deeper.

“The value Signal Hill has contributed as part of our community of service cannot be quantified,” he says.

Photograph copyright by CHHSM. Used with permission.