Why Storytelling?

Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian writer.

[Brussels, 18 December 2017] Last month, I had the pleasure to work with the European Women’s Lobby’s Programme Unit and to take the lead in organizing the webinar “The Art of Storytelling: Why are our stories important for social transformation?” with New York writer and co-founder of elle fin productions, Laura Fischer. Those webinars are a series on funding for women’s rights and fundraising in general produced by the EWL. These webinars should serve to share experience and best practise on fundraising among women’s rights activists and enhance better collaboration among feminist activists. Laura explained us why stories are so powerful and how amplifying women’s voices might truly have the power to transform the world.

Among all the great knowledge Laura shared with us, I found particularly interesting the following ideas about “Why Storytelling?” :

With story, your organization can stand out amongst the many other great organizations – imagine how many organizations the Ford Foundation or Open Society hears about on a daily basis. A good story can help you stick out in their minds.

Storytelling can grow your audience – think about the popular Humans of NY on Facebook – if you don’t know about that, please Google it. It is a great example of effective storytelling. The guy who started it goes around, snaps a picture and tells a person’s story – and it is a huge hit. HUGE. We are always searching for meaning and stories help us understand and navigate our own emotional complexities and further understand our life experiences – even if it is just a snapshot of another human’s life.

Storytelling can help you attract donors – the more you connect with people and get them to empathize with the work you are doing, the more likely they will be to donate and be a part of your community

Through storytelling, you empower women by telling their stories. Your stories will most likely have women as the main characters – and by giving those women a story, you give them a voice.

Think of the #metoo campaign – by telling their stories, by labelling their experiences, these women feel empowered.

As a freedom and women’s rights activist, this webinar helped me to understand a little bit more how stories contribute to social transformation – and how I can be part of it! By this, I’m feeling inspired to set my own context through stories, as well as create purpose and drive action.

If you are interested in knowing more about storytelling, check out these authors that Laura shared with us:

  • Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories
  • Lisa Cron, Story Genius
  • Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
  • Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens
  • Michael Hauge, Storytelling Made Easy
  • Annie Murphy Paul, “Your Brain on Fiction”, NY Times

Giannina Raffo | Google Fellow, European Women’s Lobby
@GianninaRaffo — # h e r s t o r y

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