Making Time for Story
Jay Geneske

Jay Geneske Former Director of Digital

November 03, 2014

Making Time for Story

Jay Geneske

Jay Geneske Former Director of Digital

November 03, 2014

Few would deny that storytelling has the potential to drive considerable social impact, but really, who has the time?

I’m with you.

I’ve been meaning to write this post all week, but my days overflowed with meetings, emails, and crafting and producing content—not to mention working on a full digital overhaul for the Foundation.

Although you may have different tasks in your daily job in the social impact sector, I bet this sounds familiar to you. I know we’re all on board for storytelling, but where do we fit it in?

In a survey (which you can view here) completed by our grantee Hattaway Communications of dozens of people in the sector, one of the most common reasons we heard for not focusing on storytelling is the amount of time it takes to produce compelling content. This is especially true for communications staff, who are busy hunting down stories from the program team, writing copy for the website, pitching press, photoshopping an image for Facebook, or working on a speech.

To be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood the necessity to step back and think about storytelling strategically and to see it different from—but connected to—communication strategy. I’m a firm believer that the social impact sector is more poised than any other sector to use story to really connect with an audience. Our stories are honest, hopeful, brutal, funny, scary, visceral, and more human than most sectors could dream of, yet so many of us have a hard time even thinking of utilizing story, and instead rely on bullet points, facts, and jargon.

We can change this.

The Foundation has been working with some really incredible people to help the social impact sector rethink how we make time to infuse story into our organizations.

Later this month, we’ll launch a beta version of an online storytelling platform that curates the best-of-the-best around the web—including case studies, toolkits and thought pieces—anchored around strategy, capacity, platforms, content, and evaluation.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek from one of the guides on strategy:

A strategically crafted story can achieve several important objectives: It can help people become aware of the need, care about the cause, understand the problem and solution, feel a sense of urgency to act, and know how they can help. We have examples of organizations that took the time to do this and how it paid off for them in the end.

Hatch for Good Narrative Framework

Once you understand the ideas that your stories must communicate in order to drive action, you can craft a narrative structure to guide your efforts. A narrative structure is a simple but powerful framework for organizing the ideas that you communicate in stories: people who are the protagonists of the story, the goals they seek to achieve, the problems that stand in the way, and the solutions that help them succeed.

Using this framework as a guide for collecting or creating stories ensures that your storytelling communicates a consistent set of ideas that will motivate and mobilize people for your cause.

Much, much more to come.

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