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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Social Sector Launches “Ethical Storytelling Guide for Nonprofits: Key Principles & Practices”

Social Sector Launches "Ethical Storytelling Guide for Nonprofits: Key Principles & Practices"

The Social Sector Ethics program is pleased to announce the launch of an ethical storytelling guide for nonprofits. The guide, which is publicly available on our site, provides nonprofit organizations with a set of principles, techniques for implementation, and a 5-step framework for making ethical decisions when developing story concepts and campaigns.

“Nonprofit organizations are regularly called upon to tell their stories of contributions, impact, and purpose,” said Anita Varma, assistant director of Social Sector Ethics (as well as Journalism & Media Ethics). “There’s also often a risk of inadvertently silencing communities served by positioning the nonprofit as a ‘savior’ instead of a facilitator or supporter.”

To protect nonprofits from this potential pitfall, the Ethical Storytelling Guide emphasizes how nonprofit organizations can craft stories with a focus on substance, inclusion, and constructive narrative.

Techniques for implementation include in-depth interviews, myth-busting, partnering with communities represented, and seeking feedback after campaigns launch. The guide also provides links to a curated set of external resources from within the social sector on nonprofit storytelling for more granular guidance.

To summarize the key contribution of the guide, Varma cites a phrase well-known in disability activism: “Nothing about us without us.”

Download "Ethical Storytelling Guide for Nonprofits" as a PDF.

Jan 27, 2020

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