Storytelling for good: An example from the Red Cross

I came upon a good example of nonprofit storytelling that I thought I would share with my readers as they think of how they use storytelling in the upcoming year. Check out the story from the International Committee of the Red Cross

Photo of two South Sudanese woman and a man, each talking on a cell phone for 3 minutes.We live in the most connected of times. It has never been easier to communicate with a loved one; by text, email, … What, if instead of mass communication, you could just phone one person, for two minutes, and nothing else. It’s almost impossible to imagine. Who would you call? What would you say?

In South Sudan, for many people, that is their reality…

Source: Three minutes to call the person you love — Pushed to the Limits — Medium

Here are some things I noticed that you may use in your next storytelling venture, whether you are in ministry, the nonprofit world, or an activist in some other arena.

  • Less can be more, if you edit well – In each of the stories, the author walks the tightrope of giving the reader enough to get the emotional heart of the story, but leaving enough gaps so that the reader’s mind is engaged in filling them in, resulting in a more compelling narrative.
  • Individuals (in their individuality) matters – We sometimes have a tendency to abstract away the specifics of this person, or this interaction. The texture and the details make it stick better
  • There is no call to action, and that’s ok – Some of your stories will end in a call to take action, to donate, to make a life change, but not all of them will. The truth is also that before someone makes the step to take action, they need to emotionally resonate with your cause, believe that your approach can make a difference, believe that they can help, and feel like they need to help now. Take some time to build your case, to build trust and connection before you make the ask.

There may be other things in this story that you can take from it (and if you do, I’d be happy to hear them in the comments) but I hope you’ll consider these three points the next time you have to tell a story for good.