Is digital storytelling part of your nonprofit’s communication, funding, membership, or education strategies? Wondering what exactly digital storytelling is, how it can benefit your organization, and where to find help getting started?
About Digital Storytelling
What is Digital Storytelling?
I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a brief definition of storytelling in simple everyday language. Few of the organizations that champion digital storytelling and/or offer digital storytelling training or consultation actually provide a definition or explanation of digital storytelling on their websites.
Good old Wikipedia provides a simple definition.
“Digital storytelling” is a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, and can be interactive.
Socialbrite, who provides consulting services to nonprofits, also provides a concise clear definition.
Digital storytelling is a craft that uses the tools of digital technology to tell stories about our lives.
Why Do Digital Storytelling?
Why might your nonprofit want to incorporate digital storytelling into its communication, funding, membership, or education strategies?
I turn again to Socialbrite:
Done properly, storytelling can be a powerful, evocative way of communicating themes and stories, often touching us in deeper ways than one-dimensional videos that rarely probe beneath the surface of people’s lives. Nonprofits, especially, can use this technique to convey powerful, emotion-filled messages — by letting the people you’re helping tell their own stories.
TechSoup, who provides technology training and solutions for libraries and nonprofits, also provides a good argument for digital storytelling (just no actual definition of the term).
Nonprofits and libraries can use digital storytelling to reach new audiences, attract donors, and demonstrate impact.
A Few Examples
Digital storytelling does not have to be a big expensive production. And it should always involve real people with real stories (not actors): consumers who have benefitted from your services, your staff, and your volunteers. Following are just a few good quick examples that I rounded up.
Room to Read, a nonprofit that focuses on developing literacy skills and gender equality in education in Asian and Africa, runs a #ThankstoEducation campaign which uses a series of short vignettes from everyday people sharing about how education has impacted their life.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) is a nonprofit, “whose mission is to help communities save and use historic places.” In 2012, PTV launched a preservation storytelling project, sharing preservation efforts throughout the state.
Animal Humane Society, a Minnesota-based animal welfare nonprofit, highlights the critical role that volunteers play in its organization, while also providing a peek into the volunteer opportunities available.
So are you reading to learn more?
Free Monthly Introductory Webinars
- Format: 1-hour webinars
- Dates & Times: Usually the first Monday of the month (10:00 am – 11:00 am PT), adjusting for holidays. Upcoming 2016 dates include: April 4th, May 2nd, June 6th, July 11th, August 1st, October 3rd, November 7th, and December 5th.
- Host: StoryCenter
Description: “Finding a story to share is a journey and often not an easy one. Yet sharing experiences about our lives is immensely rewarding and may even reveal unexpected outcomes. This free webinar is the first step of your digital storytelling journey, and a gateway to further explorations of image, sound, and digital media.”
Free April Event on Furthering Nonprofit Goals
- Date & Time: Thursday, April 07, 2016 (2:00 pm – 3:30 pm PT)
- Format: FREE livestream (or FREE in-person workshop in San Francisco)
- Host: GrantSpace
Description: Instructor Andrea Spagat of StoryCenter will explain, “why first-person stories are so compelling and how nonprofits can engage their clients and funders in bringing powerful personal stories into public viewing arenas.”