What is a story of impact?
- A story of impact is a "snap-shot" of your community engagement activity, a demonstration of the positive impact it had on your community.
- It's a brief, 200-300 word narrative that's easy to share with others.
- It's told using details and real-life examples, often from the personal viewpoint of someone directly involved in the engagement. Whenever possible, the story's point of view should be from someone who has benefitted from the activity.
Where do you find a story?
- Listen to yourself. Anything you're excited to talk about has the potential to become a story.
- Ask your partners, volunteers or other stakeholders for stories. They may hear something that you don't.
- Plan for your story as you begin your initiative. Budget for a photographer to capture the activity. Also, keep the story in mind as you build your evaluation tools. Use open-ended questions or ask for comments from participants and stakeholders. Ask participants to volunteer their contact info so you can follow-up with them.
Why write a story of impact?
- To inspire: The story of your impact has the power to motivate and spark ideas. It can further your collaboration efforts as well as help you obtain funding.
- To inform: Stakeholders want to know that "their organization" did something that had an effect on their constituents.
- To promote: Your story spreads the word about who you are, and all the great work you do in the community.
- To fund: Funders want to know that their funded projects help people. A story compels a funder to want to continue that success.
How do you write a story of impact?
Think about your audience first. You'll tell a different story to a partner than to a funder. Focus on what you think that audience will connect to most strongly.
Choose the important piece. You can't talk about all the project components in one story, so choose a piece that you think is most significant or best exemplifies the entire project. Build your story on the one thing you want the reader to remember.
Remember: People connect to people. Add a few details about the "characters" in the story and use direct quotes to let them talk. This compels your audience to be involved in the story and care about the results.
Make it personal. Data is important, but the most powerful story combines numbers with personal details and real-life examples of impact.
Focus on the change, the impact. Don't spend a lot of space describing how the initiative came to be.
Follow a journalistic style:
- Headline: Make it memorable and include action words ("jamming" with the youth in need, "sparking" a community to action).
- Lead: Quick overview of the problem and the need for a solution. Also, hint at the positive result(s) of your activity so your audience understands its value early in the story.
- Main Body: Give the key details of the activity, how the impact played out, what changed and who benefited. Demonstrate its value with data and quotes from those involved.
- Summary: This is a great place for more data or a powerful quote, something you'd like to highlight. It should emphasize the "feel good" tone of the story.
- Photos or video: Visuals are extremely important. They add depth to the story and help to involve the audience. Make sure you invite a professional photographer and/or videographer to some of your activities.
Where can you find help to write your stories?
- Your Promotions Staff: In many ways, they're the experts.
- National Center for Media Engagement: We'll give you tips and help direct you to resources. Contact us to learn more.