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Allyson Kapin 6 min read

Tell More Stories to Build Your Movement

We’ve talked about the importance of storytelling on Frogloop before. Sarah Massey reminded us earlier this summer that we can all be our own reporter and we included effective story telling as of our favorite Five Tips to Enaging New Online Activists. Today I want to highlight some recent nonprofit campaigns telling great stories with the end-goal of building a movement.

Put Video in your Storytelling Tool-Belt
Video is one of the most effective means of storytelling and its a must have for online activists trying to foster movements. The Courage Campaign’s recent volunteer-led campaign “The Wedding Matters” is a great example. In one weekend, the team produced and edited 38 videos from start to finish. The finished videos featured wedding stories from couples who were married in 2008 before Prop 8 passed. They are emotional, human, and deeply personal. The Wedding Matters Campaign leveraged the skills of dozens of volunteers and involved the team in meaningful work. The captured stories shared the experience with the Courage Campaign community when supporters were asked vote on their favorites.

Another exemplar of effective video storytelling is Mark Horvath, who’s InvisiblePeople.tv project has involved a broad community in understanding the reality of what homelessness looks like in the community and inspired the establishment of new programs and community solutions. Mark’s evident empathy and his matter-of-fact attitude in his interviews with homeless individuals serves as an example of how one person can make a difference. The stories he shares grow the movement and give people courage not to be afraid of a situation that often seems intractable.

Harness Stories for Organizing
Stories are even more powerful when you tie them into your activism goals. Bill McKibben and the team at 350.oprg are doing great with this approach. Bill and his team are on a road trip right now to call on the Obama Administration to commit to renewable energy and return the solar panels to the White House roof that were installed during President Carter’s term. Their tying the solar panels and the story of their removal to organizing actions in cities along the road trip route and a tangible call for advocacy action by supporters. A road trip for renewable energy is an interesting idea, but it’s the solar panels story that makes the campaign such a great hook for committed action.

Over to you
What challenges do you face in telling your story to an online audience? What organizations are following this approach well and who are the master storytellers in the community that we should learn from?

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Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.