Four Reasons Nonprofit Should Consider the Authentic Storytelling Method | Beth's Blog

Four Reasons Nonprofit Should Consider the Authentic Storytelling Method

Storytelling

Four Reasons Nonprofit Should Consider the Authentic Storytelling Method
Guest Post by Lewis Haidt

For many nonprofits, taking the “right” photograph or creating the “perfect” video to represent an organization’s mission and work can be an intimidating prospect. This fear-factor can be even greater for a nonprofit creating its first video.

This is why TechSoup has run a storytelling campaign for the last seven years. We believe that all nonprofits should have the capacity to create quality videos and photographs. And that’s why we offer social media events, NetSquared meet-ups, and educational trainings – all geared towards educating organizations on how to create a powerful digital story (Nonprofits can submit stories to our storytelling contest through October 31, 2017).

Here are four reasons to consider an Authentic Storytelling approach when creating your story.
Authentic Storytelling embraces “higher order” concerns such as social justice, the fate of the planet, or environmental protection as critical components. It also reflects an organization’s moral perspective, identity, values, and vision. This framework is derived from the work of Greenpeace’s Tsering Lama, who presented a webinar on Authentic Storytelling with Greenpeace: A Ten Step Process as part of our Storymakers educational offering.

1. Authentic storytelling best promotes an organization’s core mission

People work at nonprofits because they want to serve their community and the larger world. Thus, the more an organization can infuse its videos and images with the organization’s core identity, values, and vision – its ethical mandate – the greater the impact its stories will have. Every nonprofit is unique in how it wishes to impact its local community, its state, its nation, or the world. Authentic Storytelling embraces this uniqueness and zeroes in on the ethical dimension around which a story can be crafted.

The key thing is: don’t be afraid of sharing how you want to change the world. Embrace it!

2. Authentic storytelling shows why folks should care

For change to happen, we must articulate it. Authentic Storytelling imbues a story of change and transformation with the key missing ingredient: why your audience should care. Authentic Storytelling encourages you to imagine the stakes at the highest level: who will suffer if your organization fails in your mission and conversely, whose lives will flourish if you succeed. Embrace the stakes behind your mission.

3. We provide a framework

You may be thinking: “OK, maybe I’ll consider embracing the ethical component, but where should I begin?” We’re glad that you asked. Greenpeace, for the last few years, has actually paid a few lucky storytelling experts to figure out how to create an authentic story. The result is a comprehensive ten-step process that will guide you from start to finish. To begin the actual 10-step process of creating your authentic story, view Greenpeace’s Tsering Lama’s presentation, which is the basis for this blogpost.

4. Stories are everyone’s domain

Authentic storytelling is a democratic endeavor. The storytelling process allows you to uncover what is most important to you, your co-workers, and your community as you craft the story. Enlist as many people as possible – from volunteers to the office administrative assistant to the executive director – and collect five to seven examples of existing narratives around your subject area such as videos, articles, infographics, photo essays, etc. Tsering created this exercise to help.

Don’t be intimidated! Create stories with heart and passion. If you need inspiration or support, check out Storymakers 2017 contest. Then submit your photos or videos, and show us your story that imagines a better world.

Lewis Haidt (@lewisha) Senior Manager, Online Community and Social Media at TechSoup.

3 Responses

  1. Yale Wishnick says:

    Social Justice is a fiction

    If you really want to discuss things that matter focus on opportunity. I would say after 26 trillion dollars since the later 1960s and hundreds of government programs, we can safely say that social justice should have been achieved.

    Stories about strengths, courage, and independence will do much more than the fiction of “social justice.”

  2. I could not agree more with the points made in this post! Storytelling needs to go beyond your organization – remembering that people give THROUGH you, not TO you.

    Your supporters do want to hear stories of the staff, clients, and volunteers that make you special. But I think these stories need to be combined with the ideas behind Authentic Storytelling – crafting stories that go beyond the walls of the organization and touch the very cause and issue that people are passionate about in the first place.

    Also, I’m a proud Social Justice Warrior, and I think that we still have a ton of work to do!

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