Preparing for Ethical Storytelling

What kinds of stories do you tell?

Storytelling is an important part of fundraising and an essential component of the “Connect” part of the Responsive Framework. Through stories, supporters come to understand your cause, the people you serve, and the work you do. But how do you make sure that while you’re touching hearts and opening minds, you aren’t also reinforcing stereotypes or doing harm?

This week on The Responsive Weekly, Laurie Pillow joined us to talk about the questions to ask ourselves as we prepare to tell ethical stories that honor the dignity of the people the story is about and the people reading it.

The Quick Summary

Watch the Full Recording Here

Meet Laurie

Laurie Pillow is a journalist, international development communications consultant and Storybrand Certified Guide. As a journalist, she’s covered human rights issues from the front lines. Laurie helps organizations “clarify and communicate their story in order to convert the curious into inspired, loyal clients (or donors!) and build communities to create positive change.” She says, “From the beautiful and triumphant to the gritty stories of darkness and doubt, I believe every lens has the potential to awaken our conscience and connect us. Every person has the potential to set the world on fire. Sound bites get our attention, but stories get us involved.”

Top Takeaways

  • Before you tell a story, ask yourself:
    • “Does this story reinforce stereotypes?”
    • “Am I sharing this story or ‘using’ it?”
    • “How can I make this story more complete?”
  • Honor the dignity of the people the story is about by:
    • Building relationships with them
    • Obtaining their informed consent
    • Collaborating with them to tell the story
    • Following up
  • Ethical storytelling is part of building authenticity and trust


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