B&G LLP have been working with around 90 organisations in the CAST and Catalyst networks, helping them tell a better story about the impact of their work. Here, directors Ben Payne and Gerald Richards share their top tips.
B&G are Ben (Payne) and Gerald (Richards). Our two-part workshop (Telling Your Story With Impact) that we’ve been running for CAST and Catalyst over the last few months, arose out of our own experience as founders and leaders of charities. We understand that when you’re in the day-to-day work of your organisation, it can be hard to step back and really understand where and how you’re making the most impact and how to communicate this to funders, partners and the communities you serve. Typically, organisations are collecting all kinds of data –but what kinds of data is it useful to collect and use and when? What’s the best way to use that data to tell a better story about what you do?
Telling Your Story With Impact therefore has some key aims: to help organisations better understand why they should collect this data (for us, it is to help answer the simple, yet essential question: how do you know what you’re doing works?); to help them develop more efficient and effective ways of doing so and to provide some tools and tips to help shape it in ways that really connect with others. We believe that stories are a powerful tool in doing the latter and so the workshop includes simple and practical storytelling exercises. We also explore how theory of change models can be used to create and tell a clearer and more robust organizational story. Overall, we wanted participants to go away from the workshop feeling like they had more ownership of the evaluation work they were doing, or in some cases, wanted to do, and a better idea of how to use it to help further their charitable mission.
Our workshop sessions are deliberately kept small to encourage participation and to make them more interactive. We consciously draw on the diversity of experience in the group and the fact that participants come from a range of fields to help develop everyone’s insights and learning. We believe you can learn a great deal from hearing how someone from a different organisation or background talks about their work, as well as from how they respond to how you talk about yours. Like all our workshops, it includes a mixture of group discussion, presentations that draw on concrete examples from our own experience and individual exercises in storytelling and pitching for participants to practice their stories.
Here are some of our tips, taken from the workshop, for telling better stories about your impact:
- There is never just one story about an organisation; find ways to collect stories from all parts of your operation because different stories suit different audiences (and you might be surprised by what you hear!)
- No one person should be responsible for collecting stories: find ways to make everyone in your organisation both a story-gatherer and story-teller: this means giving them easy tools and simple guidance to do it.
- Be conscious of what language you use and when; sometimes we have to use jargon to create shortcuts for what we are talking about, but using simple, colloquial language is often more powerful.
- Qualitative data e.g. case studies is often most useful in creating empathy and connection: enabling someone to understand what it’s like to be one of your beneficiaries, for example.
- Quantitative data is helpful in communicating the scale of your operation or the ambition behind what you want to do. Using both qualitative and quantitative data to support each other can in turn create more compelling stories.
- Always have “a call to action” to end your story: something which gives an indication as to what you want your listener or reader to do with what you’ve just told them. Try to make this specific and appropriate to your intended audience: ask for one thing and steer clear of multiple asks.
All the final workshop sessions of Telling Your Story With Impact that we are running for CAST and Catalyst in May are now booked out and we have a waiting list. If you would like advance notice of when we’ll be running the workshop again, sign up for our updates by dropping us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are now running All Onboard, our online governance workshop about how to build a winning partnership between the management of your charity and its board members. The first date for this is April 29th 4-6.30pm. Tickets £35. More info and booking details go to the link here.