This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. The author is solely responsible for this publication (communication) and the Commission accepts no responsibility for any use may be made of the information contained therein. In compliance of the new GDPR framework, please note that the Partnership will only process your personal data in the sole interest and purpose of the project and without any prejudice to your rights.

Why Storytelling Matters for Social Innovation

Storytelling is not just a nice-to-have skill for social innovators, it is a must-have. Stories can help you communicate your vision, mission, and impact, as well as connect with your stakeholders on an emotional level. Stories can also help you attract attention, build trust, and mobilize action. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, stories are "the most effective way to package and share insights about social change."

How To Craft a Compelling Story For Social Innovation

To craft a compelling story for social innovation, you need to consider four elements: the audience, the message, the structure, and the delivery. The audience is the people you want to reach and influence with your story. You need to understand their needs, interests, and motivations, and tailor your story accordingly. The message is the core idea or takeaway you want to convey with your story. You need to make it clear, relevant, and memorable. The structure is the way you organize your story, using a beginning, a middle, and an end. You need to create a hook, a challenge, and a resolution, and use suspense, surprise, and contrast to keep your audience engaged. The delivery is the way you present your story, using words, images, sounds, and gestures. You need to use a conversational tone, a personal voice, and a vivid language, and avoid jargon, clichés, and abstractions.

Examples Of Storytelling for Social Innovation

Learning from and emulating examples of storytelling for social innovation can be beneficial. Kiva, a microfinance platform, uses stories to humanize its impact and foster empathy. Each borrower has a profile with a photo, a name, a location, and their story. Acumen, another social venture fund that invests in entrepreneurs tackling poverty, showcases their portfolio and values through video stories of the entrepreneurs. Girl Effect is a non-profit that empowers girls in developing countries; they create fictional characters who represent the aspirations and challenges of real girls, then produce media products such as radio shows, magazines, and music videos that feature these characters and their stories.

Tips For Storytelling for Social Innovation

To hone your storytelling skills for social innovation, you should begin by articulating why you do what you do and what difference you want to make. Model your story after the classic narrative arc of a hero who faces a problem and achieves transformation. Share your own experiences, emotions, and values, and be specific when using concrete details, examples, and data. Keep your story concise and creative by experimenting with different formats, channels, and media.

Storytelling for social innovation is not just an art, it is also a science. You need to measure the impact of your stories on your audiences and your goals. To do that, you need to define your objectives, indicators, and methods. Your objectives are the outcomes you want to achieve with your stories, such as raising awareness, changing attitudes, or generating action. Your indicators are the measures you use to track your progress, such as views, likes, shares, comments, feedback, or donations. Your methods are the tools you use to collect and analyze your data, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, or analytics. By measuring the impact of your stories, you can learn what works and what doesn't, and improve your storytelling strategy accordingly.

The 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling

The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California is known for developing and disseminating the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling, which are often cited as a useful starting point as you begin working with digital stories.

  1. Point of View
    What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?
  2. A Dramatic Question
    A key question that keeps the viewer's attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
  3. Emotional Content
    Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the audience to the story.
  4. The Gift of Your Voice
    A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
  5. The Power of the Soundtrack
    Music or other sounds that support and embellish the story.
  6. Economy
    Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
  7. Pacing
    The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.

The specific requirements of an educational digital story differ slightly from the original Seven Elements for Digital Stories. Working with the Seven Elements that CDS developed, we added a few new items to make them more applicable to the types of digital stories created by students. The modified elements are shown below.

1. The Overall Purpose of the Story
2. The Narrator’s Point of View
3. A Dramatic Question or Questions
4. The Choice of Content
5. Clarity of Voice
6. Pacing of the Narrative
7. Use of a Meaningful Audio Soundtrack
8. Quality of the Images, Video & other Multimedia Elements
9. Economy of the Story Detail
10. Good Grammar and Language Usage

Watch the video:  7 Elements of Digital Storytelling in 4 Minutes

Where YOUTH FOR CHANGE comes in!

The project addresses the needs of young people and the issues they face regarding digital skills attainment, access to quality non-formal learning opportunities, active citizenship and employability. YOUTH FOR CHANGE uses the term “youth leaders” to encompass youth workers, educators, organizations and institutions who care about the quality of their work with and for young people. The project partners are all engaged in informal and non-formal youth work and reflect the broad range and scope of youth sector supports. Technology was a saving grace for young people during the COVID19 lockdowns in Europe offering them an opportunity to escape, learn, socialise and connect.

1 Why storytelling matters for social innovation

2 How to craft a compelling story for social innovation

3 Examples of storytelling for social innovation

4 Tips for storytelling for social innovation

5 How to measure the impact of storytelling for social innovation

6 Here’s what else to consider



Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

© 2024 Young European Storytellers for Social Change. All rights reserved.