Nonprofit client/ Participant stories
Storytelling is central to nonprofit communications, advocacy, and fundraising. Stories help funders, individual donors, advocates, policymakers, and the community at large to better understand the issues we’re working on, how they impact real people, and what the organization is doing to make things better.
Research shows that facts and statistics alone aren’t enough to change hearts and minds – we need stories to help us make sense of complex issues and trigger a deeper level of empathy, concern, and motivation to get involved.
Conversely, individual stories alone aren’t enough, either – they must be put into context to help readers/viewers understand that, while the subject of the story is unique, the issue they’re facing isn’t. Most of the issues we tackle are the result of systemic, structural, or political forces.
I try to cover both in the stories I’ve had the privilege to tell.
Storytelling is a major responsibility, one I take very seriously. My top priority is maintaining the safety, dignity, consent, and empowerment of the person (or people) at the heart of each story. I actively avoid perpetuating stereotypes or white savior narratives, an area in which I’m still – constantly, indefinitely – growing and learning. I explain to participants where and how and why their stories will be used – and what to do if they change their minds. I attempt to paint full, complex pictures of participants instead of reducing them to the problem they’re experiencing. And whenever I can, I incorporate subjects’ own words so they can tell their own stories. There’s no such thing as “voiceless.”
Here are a few of the stories I’ve had the privilege to hear and share in my past work (click on each image to read the full story as a PDF). Photos for CT Fair Housing Center stories were taken by Roger Castonguay of Defining Studios. Photos for Literacy Volunteers stories were submitted by students or taken by me.