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In the social impact space, stories are not just narratives; they are powerful tools that can illuminate your organisation's mission, values, and achievements.

At Magnia, we understand the impact storytelling can have on engaging your audience, attracting support, and driving change. This article delves into five essential story types that every social impact organisation should embrace: founding, beneficiary, staff, donor, and volunteer stories.

These narratives are instrumental in showcasing the organisation’s mission, values, and impact, fostering a deeper engagement and support from the community. Together, these stories weave a rich tapestry that not only illustrates the effectiveness of your organisation but also inspires and mobilises others to join your cause.

Here are five essential types of stories every social impact organisation should share:

1. The founding story

Every organisation has its genesis, a moment or series of events that sparked its creation. Your founding story is the cornerstone of your brand’s narrative, offering a glimpse into the passion, challenges, and vision that led to your establishment. This story should convey the ‘why’ behind your mission, connecting emotionally with your audience and grounding all other narratives in a sense of purpose and commitment.

  • Highlight the catalyst: Focus on what sparked the creation of your organisation. Was it a personal experience of the founder, a gap in services, or a community need? This moment or realisation can serve as a powerful hook for your audience.
  • Share challenges and triumphs: Detail the hurdles you overcame in your journey from concept to realisation – this will humanise your organisation and inspire others facing similar obstacles.

The SHOFCO founding story

Kennedy Odede became a street child at the age of 10 and lived in the Kibera Slum for 23 years. During this time, he experienced extreme poverty, violence, a lack of opportunity and deep gender inequality. However, Kennedy also witnessed the palpable hope that persists in slums and recognised that people sought something different for themselves, their families and their communities. Visionaries like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela showed him that great systemic change can come from within. Women like Kennedy’s mother inspired him to build the solutions to urban poverty through addressing one of its core obstacles—the prohibitive level of gender inequality.

Through earning $1 for 10 hours of work at a factory, he managed to save 20 cents to buy a soccer ball, which he used to bring community members together. After playing soccer he would sit down with his friends to speak about the challenges in the community and devise solutions, together, in a safe and enjoyable environment. In 2004, SHOFCO was born as a result.

2. The beneficiary story

One of the most compelling narratives comes from those you serve. Beneficiary stories put a face to your impact, showcasing real-life examples of how your work has changed lives. These stories are powerful testimonials to the effectiveness of your programs and can inspire action, empathy, and support from your audience. By sharing the journeys of individuals or communities that have benefited from your work, you humanise your mission and demonstrate tangible outcomes.

  • Personal journeys: Center on individual or community stories that illustrate the direct impact of your work. Use first-person narratives to give beneficiaries a voice, making the story more personal and relatable.
  • Before and after: Clearly depict the situation before and after your intervention, illustrating the change your organisation has facilitated. This contrast can powerfully demonstrate impact.

3. The staff story

The people who drive your organisation’s mission forward every day have stories filled with dedication, insight, and inspiration. Staff stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at the passion and hard work that fuel your initiatives. Highlighting the experiences, motivations, and daily achievements of your team can build a stronger connection with your audience, showcasing the human engine that powers your impact.

  • Day in the life: Share a day in the life of a staff member to showcase the dedication and hard work behind your projects. This can highlight the human effort driving your mission.
  • Personal motivations: Delve into why your staff members are passionate about their work. Personal stories of commitment can encourage others to join your cause or support your organisation.

The Project Mercy staff story

Meet Asresash Sare, a dedicated Kitchen Worker filling plates, nurturing health and making a difference at Project Mercy.

At Project Mercy, there are many remarkable individuals who play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of the local community. Asresash, one of the dedicated kitchen workers, has been an integral part of the organisation for 14 years. Beyond her daily responsibility of baking 1,500 breads, she also takes on the important task of preparing nourishing meals, including making porridge and boiling 1,500 eggs, ensuring that the children receive well-rounded meals that contribute to their overall health and development.

She lives close to the main school and is able to get there bright and early at 6am every morning to start her job on time. Having witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of Project Mercy, she firmly believes that the organisation has brought hope and opportunity to those in need.

4. The volunteer story

Volunteers often bring a unique perspective, energy, and commitment to your organisation. Stories of volunteer engagement and transformation illustrate the diverse ways individuals can contribute to and benefit from being part of your mission. These narratives can inspire others to get involved, emphasising the personal growth and community connection that volunteering can offer.

  • Volunteer experiences: Highlight the experiences of volunteers, including what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown through their involvement. This can inspire others to volunteer.
  • Community connection: Emphasise how volunteering has impacted the volunteers and the community. Stories of personal transformation and community improvement demonstrate the value of engagement.

5. The donor story

Donors play a crucial role in enabling your work, and their stories can be a powerful tool for showcasing the value of partnership and support. By sharing narratives of why donors choose to support your organisation, the impact their contributions have made, and what inspires them to stay involved, you can highlight the collaborative nature of social change. Donor stories can also serve as a call to action, encouraging others to contribute and become part of your community of impact.

  • Impact of giving: Focus on how donations have been used to drive change. Stories that connect donor contributions to specific outcomes can motivate others to contribute.
  • Donor motivations: Share why donors chose to support your organisation and what the cause means to them personally. This can forge stronger connections with potential donors.

The Legatum donor story

In 2012, Legatum launched the END Fund, aiming to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) affecting a billion of the world’s most vulnerable. This initiative was sparked in 2006 when Legatum’s partner, Alan McCormick, inspired by a Financial Times article authored by health journalist Andrew Jack, envisioned a strategy not just to treat, but to eliminate NTDs. Implementing a program in Burundi and Rwanda, they treated 9.7 million people in four years, proving elimination was feasible.

Recognising the importance of collaboration for sustainable impact, Legatum established the END Fund as an independent entity, inviting other donors to join the mission. Positioned as a philanthropic investment vehicle, the END Fund sought to unite philanthropists and social investors against NTDs, fostering more prosperous societies.

Conclusion

These five types of stories not only showcase the work being done but also build a narrative that engages, inspires, and mobilises your audience toward greater involvement and support. The goal of storytelling is not just to inform but to move people. When you share your founding story, beneficiary stories, staff stories, donor stories, and volunteer stories, you not only highlight your achievements but also build a connected and committed community around your mission.

At Magnia, we believe that storytelling elevates your impact and brings your social impact organisation’s vision to life. Reach out to us, if you would like to talk to us about how we can help your organisation tell better stories.

Keep an eye out for our next storytelling article, where we’ll share some dos and don’ts of crafting a compelling story.

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