Building a Sustainable Storytelling Organization

The key elements of a storytelling organization and how to build a storytelling culture.

You’ve got ideas and feel good about your strategic goals, but does your organization make storytelling a priority? The truth is, you can’t do it alone: a storytelling organization is a team effort. You’ll need agreement from the top to ensure that storytelling is a priority for your organization, as well as a strategy for making sure stories get collected, created, shared and evaluated.

This is a team effort. To tell stories consistently and strategically, you need to create a storytelling culture within your organization. When you have a successful storytelling organization, you can build a community of support—starting with your own staff and allies—to expand your reach, resources and, ultimately, your impact.

In effective storytelling organizations, everyone understands why stories are important to share and what elements make a compelling, strategic story. Senior managers need to understand the importance of dedicating time, talent and resources to designing content strategies and producing high-quality content. Communications and digital staff should have access to the tools and resources they need to maintain an effective storytelling operation.

In this article, we’ll explore your organization’s ability to collect and create stories that inspire and engage your audience.

The 5 Key Elements of a Storytelling Organization

  1. 1Identify: Individuals at the organization know what a strategic story looks like and can identify compelling stories.
  2. Collect: There is a clear way to submit and collect stories about the organization, its beneficiaries or its outcomes.
  3. Produce: Stories and content are produced by a creative team, using various mediums.
  4. Engage: Stories are shared with supporters across a variety of platforms and social networks.
  5. Evaluate: The organization regularly evaluates its storytelling practices to determine how it can be more effective in the future.

If you don’t already have a storytelling culture, you can take small steps toward creating one by focusing on each of the five steps above.

Questions to Ask about Your Organization’s Storytelling Culture

  • Does your senior staff support storytelling? What do you think would convince them to do so?
  • Do you have staff dedicated to storytelling? What would it take to support all five of the elements above? What about just one or two of them?
  • Does everyone in your organization know what makes a strategic story for your organization? Could you lead a training, using tools from Hatch for Good?
  • Do you have a database or other tool for keeping track of your best strategic stories?
  • Is someone on your team responsible for collecting or creating stories? If it’s many people, do you use a tool like the Social Impact Story Map to ensure they’re being created consistently?
  • Do you use an editorial calendar to plan your storytelling schedule? If not, you should create one.
  • Do you currently have a plan for how to repurpose your content to get the most out of your stories? If not, check out these templates.
  • Are you measuring the impact of your storytelling? If you’re not yet, check out this article on evaluation to get started.