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[Infographic] Navigating the Online World of Nonprofit Storytelling

June 03, 2017

Storytelling is as old as fire. And over the millennia, storytellers have left us a trove of sayings and observations about the power and importance of good storytelling.

"It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling" (Khalil Gibran)

"If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all" (Joseph Campbell)

"People don't want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith — faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell" (Annette Simmons)

Yes, some of the settings in which stories are told have changed, as have many of the techniques. But as this week's infographic, courtesy of the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University, reminds us, "Stories" — the kind that people remember and respond to — "chronicle a character who undergoes some kind of change or transformation." Joseph Campbell couldn't have said it better.

Here at PhilanTopic, we've been exploring the world of stoytelling with the likes of Thaler Pekar (here, here, here, here, and here) for close to a decade. But even we were surprised by some of the findings presented below. (And, yes, in the nonprofit world at any rate, text still rules.) Enjoy!


As Joan Didion suggests, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live" — and to connect to something bigger than ourselves.

What is your organization's story. And what are you and your colleagues doing to get it out into the world where others can hear and respond to it? Is it the job of single person or unit, or is it the responsibility of everyone in the organization? Is text your thing, or have you made the jump into video? What are your favorite channels and platforms? Inquiring minds want to know.

Share your thoughts, tips, and suggestions in the comments below. And happy storytelling!

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Posted by Jeremy Covert  |   June 07, 2017 at 07:26 PM

Great infographic! The website needs to be engaging like a good story, and a good story starts with an gravitational title. Dan Kimball, a fundraising specialist at Aplos, has been fundraising for years, and has made his living of story telling and relationship building. He has weekly webinars that can help with story telling, relationship building, and fundraising efforts. It could be worth checking the link below if interested:

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