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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Social Sector Ethics Presents at “Funding Your Impact Summit” for Silicon Valley Nonprofits

Anita Varma panel svcn

Anita Varma panel svcn

Nonprofit organizations regularly engage in storytelling, including annual reports, fundraising proposals, marketing campaigns, and blog posts. These stories provide an opportunity for nonprofits to articulate their impact on communities served. Doing so effectively can bring great value in the form of recognition and resources to nonprofits, but has also led nonprofits down an ethically slippery slope of positioning themselves as “saviors.”

Anita Varma, Ph.D., assistant director of the Center’s Social Sector Ethics and Journalism & Media Ethics Programs, tackled these issues and more at a “Funding Your Impact Summit” focused on ethical storytelling. Hosted by Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN) on Thursday, August 20, Varma presented at the third of five sessions in the nonprofit fundraising series. Held virtually for the first time due to COVID-19 restrictions, more than 40 participants attended and engaged with the material.

Varma presented a synthesis of the “Ethical Storytelling Guide for Nonprofits: Key Principles and Practices,” and then moderated a panel with nonprofit leaders including Usha Srinivasan (Sangam Arts/Mosaic Silicon Valley), Demone Carter (Sacred Heart Community Service), and Jessica Paz-Cedillos (School of Arts & Culture | Mexican Heritage Plaza). Jennifer Torai, SVCN director of Learning and Member Engagement, organized the summit and selected panelists for the discussion.

Ethical storytelling for nonprofit organizations means, first and foremost, centering the lived experiences of communities served,” Varma explained. “I thought each panelist raised important points about how storytelling can go terribly awry if organizations lose sight of their local stakeholders by favoring flash over substance.”

Visit this link to attend the remaining sessions of the summit and view recordings of previous sessions.

Aug 25, 2020


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