The Art & Science of Story Telling to Convey Impact

Three people hosting RINA event about the art & science of story telling to convey impact.


On August 2nd, 80 people attended a seminar hosted by RINA accountancy corporation and featured speakers, J. Alexander Sloan, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Tides Foundation and Wendy Levy, Executive Director at NAMAC (National Alliance for Media Arts + Culture). Their dynamic presentation included ways to measure impact of not-for-profit organizations’ programs and how to report the results of those activities through data and storytelling. Those who donate to not-for-profit organizations want to feel their gifts and donations will be used successfully in a way that will improve society or some part of it. But how can donors evaluate whether or not a charity will ultimately deliver on their promise or mission?

Alex Sloan explained that charitable organizations should not only be measuring and reporting data, but also the outcomes and impact from their activities. Activities are the tasks that are performed in support of a specific objective.  Outcomes are the changes that occur from the activity (delivery of product or services).  Impact measures how the organization’s clients, or society as a whole, have improved as a result of their activity.  Impacts can be very difficult to measure.  

Alex used VisionSpring as an example of an organization that not only measures impact effectively, but also tells their story successfully. VisionSpring’s home page demonstrates with data, graphics and pictures, the impact the organization has in providing eyeglasses to individuals in third-world countries.  It also shows the impact that one individual can have if they donate $5 to VisionSpring. This is a very powerful message done simply.

Wendy Levy spoke about the concept of combining data, emotion and empathy as part of a not-for-profit’s story to assist in deepening the impact of the organization’s activities. She advised that using authentic people whose lives have been directly affected by the organization’s work can create social change that will captivate and engage an audience to move them to action.  Another way to tell your story is to show the human consequences of the problem your organization addresses and the solutions that give people hope.  By bringing in the human element, it allows people to connect on a deeper emotional level.

Whether you’re starting to work on your organization’s story for the first time or improving the one you already have, find ways to incorporate real life examples that your audience can relate to and engage in.

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