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New Report Shines a Spotlight on Impact Storytelling

“This is a beautiful moment to say look at how far we’ve come, look at how much work has been accomplished, look at the leadership and understanding of the role of culture in our design to achieve our goals. We’ve come a long way, and now it’s time to really dig deeper.”

Ellen Friedman, former Executive Director, Compton Foundation, “Spotlight on Impact Storytelling”

Impact storytelling—the practice of incorporating narrative and cultural strategies in storytelling to specifically support social justice philanthropy—has grown in popularity in recent years, as more philanthropic groups have realized its power to build connections and transform cultures of injustice.

We’re big believers in the power of storytelling. Courageous storytelling has been one of our core strategies for more than a decade, and many of our current grant partners are using narrative interventions to drive social and political change.

Just Vision, for example, is using documentary film and journalism to interrupt mainstream narratives about Israeli and Palestinian societies and open up new paths for political engagement. Doc Society has built out new “Story Labs” to champion storytellers who are creating powerful narrative interventions to spur action on climate change and, more recently, protecting democracy. And the Fuller Project is lifting up the voices of those often left unheard by investing in investigative journalism on the gendered impacts of issues ranging from climate change to science research. (Read more about our other storytelling grantees here!)

But what does this work actually look like in practice? And what broader patterns can we learn from the narrative change field as it continues to grow? In “Spotlight On Impact Storytelling: Mapping and recommendations for the narrative and cultural strategies ecosystem,” impact storytelling experts Erin Potts, Dom Lowell, and Liz Manne spoke with 24 field leaders and reviewed 50 reports to determine the shared goals, motivations, and values of impact storytellers. They also identify five key findings to move the field forward and support continued growth:

  1. More coordination, production, and distribution;
  2. More training and a wider pool of talent;
  3. More practical and affordable measurement tools;
  4. More collective learning and coordination spaces;
  5. Better and more strategic funding.

You can read more about these findings and download a copy of the “Spotlight on Impact Storytelling” report here.

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