A few weeks ago I hosted a free webinar on non-profit storytelling. There were over 400 non-profit professionals in attendance and a ton of great questions asked. Unfortunately we only had an hour together, so I wasn’t able to get to every question.
Today I thought I would take the opportunity to answer a few more questions from the webinar that relate to collecting stories and working with program staff members to collect stories. In other words – creating a culture of storytelling.
What would you recommend for international story collection?
One basic tool that I think every organization should have is a form to collect stories. This can be a paper form or an online form. Either way, it is a central place for staff to submit stories. If you choose to use an online form, there are several free services like Google Forms, Wufoo Forms, and Survey Monkey that will host your online form and automatically catalogue responses into a spreadsheet.
At first you may ask some general questions on the form, but over time you might start to recognize specific questions you can ask staff in order to get the full story. Like most things in life getting to that point is a process, so be patient.
What is the trick for getting your staff to actually send/tell you a story from their experience?
Make storytelling a habit for everyone and positively reinforce it.
It’s important for you to lead by example on this. Start by sharing the stories that you know. As other staff members start sharing stories with you, make sure you thank them well. If they are someone who likes to be publically recognized, mention them and their story at the next all staff meeting. If they don’t like the spot light, send them a thank you note.
The bottom line – if you want others to start telling stories, you need to exercise your leadership muscles and lead the charge.
We’re a capacity building organization. Our program staff doesn’t interact with those who have the most impactful, emotional stories. What’s the best way for us to go about storytelling?
If your organization is funding other non-profits or community groups’ work, then you need to think about the type of relationship you build with these partners. For example, if you set the expectation that you’ll mail them the check and then won’t talk to them again until the project is over, there is not an opportunity for on-going conversation. Make sure you are not unintentionally cutting off communication.
Second, find ways to incorporate storytelling into their final reports. This way you will have access to some of these stories. The other thing you could do is schedule a wrap up interview with the staff that was doing the program delivery in order to ask them questions and hear their stories.
Have a question about collecting stories? Leave it in a comment this blog post and I’ll answer it for you.