Why Social and Environmental Impact needs more Stories


From the biblical story of Adam and Eve, to an anecdote about an embarrassing childhood memory, a story is the ultimate tool to capture and connect with your audience.

We’ve been using stories to communicate information, express emotions, identities, and opinions, connect with others, and entertain since our earliest hunter-gatherer days.

But the art of storytelling is knowing how to design a narrative in order to convey a message, whether it be an emotional message or a functional one. Because as it turns out, people are 22x more likely to recall a story than they are a fact.

And why is that? Stories are what we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. ...That’s why the economy is in the state of disrepair… That’s why global inequality is on the rise... That’s why I can’t afford to buy a house...

If you can influence the stories people tell themselves and put your organisation in the centre of those stories, you’ll be able to affect the way people behave. Where they shop. What they buy. The ultimate (ethical) marketers’ dream.

So for social enterprises who have a clear purpose for existing, a vision for a world that helps more people than it steps on and a clear idea of the problem it’s trying to solve and how it’ll solve it, storytelling should be easy right?  

Here are our 3 key reasons why organisations working towards social good have the best stories to tell…

The Solution:

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Social enterprise is a great model for affecting change within our local communities. There’s no doubt about it. They address inequities through creative and unique solutions, and more often than not, it’s a tough ride. However, the stories about what they do, how they do it, and what difference they’re making, leave a lasting impression.

These supply chain and impact stories show the brands’ values in action. While an elevator pitch is necessary in some circumstances, giving time to a storytelling process will encourage an audience to truly absorb how the organisation is going about making a real, tangible difference by SHOWING them. After all, remember that proverb ‘actions speak louder than words’?

That’s because you’re 95% governed by your limbic system (your emotional brain) and 5% governed by your pre-frontal cortex (rational brain). Studies have found that brain-damaged patients left devoid of emotion struggle to make the most basic decisions. Sounds crazy right?

(Source: https://www.wired.com/2014/03/neuroscience-decision-making-explained-30-seconds/)

The Issue:


Socially-conscious organisations are tackling a variety of environmental and social inequities to benefit the greater good. Therefore, being clear about your reason for existing helps connect you with people who also care about similar issues.

Showing the research, revealing the context, and telling the story of those who are most affected, allows an audience to understand the true extent of the problem, and why it needs to be addressed.

That’s because when you hear a story, your brain releases a number of chemicals like dopamine (the reward hormone - designed to keep you hooked), cortisol (which opens your awareness and enables you to remember the story) and oxytocin (which creates a feeling of empathy).

And finally…

Passionate People:

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An organisation with social purpose is often driven by a bunch of passionate individuals who have a strong vision for a better world. Shedding light on the personal stories of those at the very heart of the organisation, draw the audience into the vision-to-impact journey, and provide insight into the true values and motivations of those committed changemakers

What’s more is that honest, personal, purpose-driven, people stories are almost always the most intriguing. They’re naturally engaging for an audience looking for a chance to relate, connect, and be inspired by other individuals. The more personal the story is, the better the resonance and emotional investment will be from those you’re speaking to.   


So you know why your story is worth telling, but how do you tell it? We’re running a storytelling workshop on October 16th (next week!) as a fringe event of Aotearoa Social Enterprise Forum, to equip you with the tools to do just that.

Information + tickets >> https://bit.ly/2zPvrWY


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