Since the dawn of humankind, stories have been a powerful vehicle to exchange information and drive change. From cavepeople scrawling on walls to the incredible early power of AI–driven tools like ChatGPT, the power of storytelling is undeniable. Some of the world’s greatest – and most notorious – movements were ignited on the heels of pictures painted by the leaders of those movements.
Stories shape our understanding of the world, pull out our best and worst emotions, and build unbreakable bonds between like-minded people in close-knit communities. In the context of social change, storytelling can raise awareness, inspire action, and ultimately lead to transformations that make the world a better place.
At Team DSB, we work with young multicultural storytellers as creative architects, partnering with them to help ignite movements that change the world. It’s our goal, because our clients are us.
We aim to help these folks build a storytelling framework to make content creation easier and more powerful so they can let the juices flow with less stress and drive an indelible impact.
Multicultural and BIPOC non-profit leaders face undeniably inherent challenges – but these challenges are not insurmountable.
The Challenges Non-Profit Leaders Face
There are two primary roadblocks for any non-profit leaders who wants to elevate young, multi-cultural folks:
- Lack of access to funding.
- Limited or zero visibility.
BIPOC and multicultural-centered non-profits often face unique difficulties in raising enough funding due to:
- Systemic biases ingrained in our societal hierarchies
- A staggering lack of representation in the organizations that would provide funding if they could.
Because of this, a large part of an leader’s day is spent seeking out non-traditional funding sources more willing to give and be a better long-term institutional fit for the organization’s continued growth.
In the social change space, some larger, well-established organizations wield the majority of power and visibility. Competing against these organizations for projects is challenging, especially when you’re bootstrapping and resources are tight.
Given this climate, it’s essential to tell the right story to leverage your unique perspectives and understanding of the world around you and what your organization does to improve it.
How to Leverage Your Perspective, Even With Limited “Influence”
We’re willing to bet you’re exhausted. Sometimes it seems like you’re fighting an uphill battle. Frustration is front and center, and you need guidance on how to get everything done.
Storytelling plays a huge role in helping you more effectively leverage your perspective and maximize your resources. As multicultural and BIPOC non-profit leaders, you have a deep, inherent understanding of the communities you serve and the values that matter most and need protecting.
Your authenticity shines through naturally. It isn’t manufactured. It’s in your DNA.
Sharing your message comes naturally, but earning enough exposure for your most powerful ideas may not.
It’s easier to leverage your unique perspective with limited influence when you have the right storytelling framework to call on. With the right framework, you can humanize the issues your non-profit cares about, build connections with people who can drive change, inspire individual and collective action, and change perceptions of who you are and the world you’re fighting for.
Storytelling is the instrument that builds this momentum.
A Storytelling Framework for Time-Strapped Creators
When telling a story, it’s important to think about transformation. Your community – enters the transformational path where they are now, before they begin working with you. It’s on you to show to where they’ll be once you’re done working together.
To paint the picture of that transformation, it’s essential to inject emotion – whether compassion, outrage, or empathy- when you can evoke emotion in your community. Allow your stories to become the hook that pulls people closer to you.
As intentional storytellers, you understand the power of shared experience. It’s essential to use this to your advantage as well.
Think about which life-changing experience(s) encouraged you to consider how to foster the sharing of similar experiences as a career:
- What did that moment feel like?
- What did it sound like?
- What were the sounds, the smells, the emotions?
- Who was involved and why?
- What happened next?
The more vivid the details you can bring to your stories, the tighter the bond you’ll create with folks who engage with your work. Let them see themselves in your words.
And if you have a story about important figures in your movement, share more about why you think they matter to your community – as humans, we love leaders that mirror our values and amplify our voices.
That’s simply a smart strategy.
Shared recognition of important figures and their contributions is an important rallying point. Still, it’s equally as important to build emotion into those stories to ensure they “stick” in the minds of your community and don’t have only a temporary impact.
Content and building community is a long game. There’s no way around that.
Accordingly, at Team DSB, we tend to shy away from clients and partners who come to us and say, “help us go viral.” Sure, it’s nice if it happens – as long as you have the right pieces to take advantage of it – but it’s an empty goal.
At our heart, our ideal client is people like us. We started Team DSB as folks who care deeply about our work, and we simply don’t take on work that doesn’t align with us. Going viral isn’t the goal; driving thoughtful community engagement is.
It’s a slow build.
And stories created and amplified with that deliberate pace – which allows for innovation and iteration – are the stories that change our world.
Six Best Practices for Social Change Storytelling Campaigns
Telling a powerful story that leaves a lasting impression is an art. The ability to do so doesn’t come without plenty of practice, iteration, failure, and determination – refining the message as you go. That said, following a time-tested framework certainly makes the process easier than if you were flying blind.
The best social change storytelling campaigns share a few common characteristics:
- They are genuine to the experiences of the individuals involved and, collectively, the communities they represent.
- The stories are relatable to the people absorbing them. Your community can feel what you’re sharing and picture themselves in the place you’re describing or feel the emotions your story is drawing out.
- The language is simple but not condescending. The story is told in a way that isn’t overly complicated but doesn’t insult the intelligence of its intended audience – the more straightforward the story, the broader its appeal.
- Visual elements pack a punch. The stories that resonate with you the most are those with a visual component, right? For example, you may remember an image of an important moment in your community’s transformation more vividly than you remember the story behind the image. In today’s storytelling, video serves this purpose. Therefore, any good social change storytelling campaign should leverage video – if possible – as much as possible.
- The campaigns take a multi-platform approach using social media, podcasts, blog posts, and other mediums to reach as many people as possible in your community.
- There’s a unified call to action across your storytelling. People who encounter your content know exactly what you want them to do next. There’s no question what you’re asking them to do and why you’re asking them to do it – or how that action will benefit them when they act.
Genuine. Relatable. Simple but not condescending. Visual. Multi-platform. Unified call to action.
This six-item list prompts a quick activity for you to try out:
- First, check out your current storytelling initiatives. Do they check each of these boxes?
- Then, ask yourself a few questions:
- If they don’t, is tackling the change required so they do something in our wheelhouse?
- Do we have the resources available to do it ourselves?
How Our Creative Consulting Helps You Unleash Your Story
At Team DSB, we scale the cultural impact of purpose-driven storytelling. That’s our mission, and it underlies everything we do as creative architects. We’re a creative collective that builds infrastructure for storytellers, brands, and organizations that ignite movements – like yours.
We’ll help you build a storytelling framework to make content creation easier and more powerful.
Through our 4Ds, we’ll define what needs doing and build a framework to tell the powerful story you deserve to tell:
- Define the scope of work and what it will take to tell the story.
- Design the strategy, templates, and tools to make it easier.
- Develop the content creation process, whether you’re doing the lion’s share of creating or we’re partnering to help you execute.
- Deploy the message, iterating, optimizing, and finding the right sweet spot that engages your community.
One of the unfortunate realities of bootstrapping your organization is that your creative energy gets sapped. You’re too busy executing everything you must do daily to keep things running smoothly, keep the lights on, and keep your movement heading in the right direction.
Our goal at Team DSB is to ensure that creatives with a story can slice out some room to be creative and do what they do best. And it’s much easier to do when you have a storytelling framework to follow so your creative time is well spent and productive.
To learn more about how we work and how we can help your story have the impact it deserves for your movement and community, click here.