The Art of Advocacy: Storytelling for a better world

Never mind marketing via storytelling – the art of storytelling itself has had a re-branding in recent years.

The power of words for NGOs

Strategic storytelling usually evokes connotations along the lines of marketing, and less of an emphasis on its not-for-profit potential. But in the modern era of social media and excessive content consumption, we have a more accessible platform than ever to communicate the messages that matter most to a wide audience – all in the attempt to inspire positive change.

All in the numbers?

Sure, data matters. Money matters. Generally speaking – as much as my verbally-wired brain finds it hard to accept – numbers matter. And I’m not here to say that all you need is love, patience and instagrammable inspirational quotes (despite all three of these things being undeniably great.)

But it’s time to call off the war between logic and emotion, between maths and art, and between numbers and words. It’s quite evident that we need both sides of this coin in every aspect of life – and the advocacy and development field is no exception!

Advocacy Writing in Practice

So this is all well and good – but how does it work in practice?

It all starts with NGOs or any other online platform communicating on a key issue really making the most of the power of storytelling. As humans, we have been telling stories since our caveman days – and although the mediums may have changed somewhat – the joy of this act has not.

But stories don’t have to be about entertainment alone. They bring a human, emotional element to any discourse which catches our attention like nothing else.

Think about it: what do you remember more: the statistic of how many girls around the world undergo FGM, or the story of a real FGM survivor, detailing her struggles and triumph against all the odds? What’s more engaging: a black-and-white figure of the number of migrants who leave Africa each year or the story of a real family fleeing conflict in Eritrea and start their new lives in a small Dutch town?

When it comes to inspiring change, we must evoke empathy. And when it comes to evoking empathy, we must tell stories. The more raw and emotion-filled detail, the better. In a world of “fake news” combined with our desensitization thanks to our over-exposure to the media, it is increasingly challenging to grab the attention of a potential reader (a.k.a. a potential supporter of your advocacy mission!)

As such, becoming more creative in the way in which we communicate on an issue can have a huge impact on your… well… impact. And this, in turn, will contribute to the desired effect on those numbers we care so much about!

Do you have an issue close to your heart that you think needs more attention? Get in touch for advocacy writing services or communications consulting!

But what about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Read my beginner’s guide to SEO for advocacy work here!

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