Blog | Jan 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

[storytelling revisted]

[more thoughts and resources]

Last year, I wrote a post about the importance – and joy – of story telling. We all know the power of stories, so why don’t we incorporate more of them into our communications? Here are some further thoughts and a great resource for you.

Recently, I attended a presentation on storytelling.

The talk, which was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Chapter of AFP, was given by Andy Goodman, a nationally recognized consultant who conducts popular workshops about storytelling and other topics in public interest communications.

Andy began by showing us some PowerPoint presentations from nonprofits. They were real showstoppers. In a bad way. They could put you to sleep in a matter of minutes. They were written by dedicated, smart people who thought their mission statement and research data told their story. But it didn’t.

People, not data, are the story.

And should always be our focus: how  lives are changed by the work of the organization. Stories provide the context for data (not the other way ’round). And, according to Andy, nonprofits always have a lot of them to choose from.

Every nonprofit has six core stories.

Andy’s list of story types provides a great framework for nonprofit communications.

  1. The nature of our challenge: why we need to do what we do
  2. How we started: the inspiration and hard work of our founders
  3. Emblematic success: stories that best represent what we do
  4. Our performance: not just the effect of our work, but how we live our values
  5. How we strive to improve: our learning and how it is changing us for the better
  6. Where we’re going: our dreams for the future

Think of all the opportunities to use stories like these! They could – and should – be woven into everything we do, even a PowerPoint presentation.

In this age of information overload, stories are the best tools we have for connecting with our audiences.

And as this quote implies, they impart the meaning of our work more clearly than a collection of data.

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” (H. Arendt)

Photo credit: Tim Andonian. This photo is from my first meeting with some of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan resettled in the U.S. by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. It represents one of my favorite stories about the work of the agency.
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Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.

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