Storytelling and Social Change: A Strategy Guide

The guide below is for organizers, organizations, activists, artists, storytellers, social entrepreneurs, and anyone else who wants to create positive social change.

The guide is bookended by an introduction and an afterword. In between, you’ll find thirty-two short chapters divided into four color-coded sections. The strategy section is about how to use storytelling to best effect in service of your cause. The storytelling section offers ideas on how to tell a good story. The methods section covers some techniques in storytelling. And the structure section looks at practical questions of how to incorporate storytelling into your everyday work. Following these sections is a series of case studies of foundation and nonprofit partners from the first edition of the guide.

To download a PDF of the guide, click here.


Are stories any match for tough social problems? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Why Stories?

Why tell stories for social change? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we develop a storytelling strategy? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we do research to support our storytelling? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we reach new audiences? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Pop Culture

How can we piggyback on pop culture? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we balance short and long-term storytelling? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


Where can we tell stories? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Actionable Stories WITNESS


How do we make our stories actionable? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Personal and Political

Personal and Political

How do we combine the personal and the political? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Good Stories

What makes for a good story? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we keep audiences involved in the story? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Boring Topics

How do we tell compelling stories about boring topics? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we combine stories and statistics? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


What are some of the forms of storytelling we can use? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Andy Goodman

Story Types

Whose and what kinds of stories can we tell? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How can we elicit good stories from an interview? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Paul VanDeCarr

Uses of Story

How is storytelling used for social change? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Will O'Hare for TONYC

Theatre of the Oppressed

What is Theatre of the Oppressed and how can we use it? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Public Narrative

What is Public Narrative and how can we use it? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How can we use fiction in our work? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How and why can we use humor? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Equal Justice Initiative


How can we use history? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Center for Artistic Activism

The Future

How do we tell stories about the future we want to see? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we make storytelling a more regular part of our work? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Constituent Stories

How can we gather stories from constituents? FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Story Banks

What is a story-bank and how can we build one? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


What are the ethics of storytelling? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How can nonprofits work with outside storytellers to create change? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


What practices support storytelling on an ongoing basis? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


What can grantmakers do? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


How do we evaluate the impact of our stories? FacebookTwitterGoogle+


By Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change Action FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Globalgiving/Rockefeller Foundation

Case Study: Globalgiving/Rockefeller Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Heart & Soul / Orton Family Foundation

Case Study: Heart & Soul / Orton Family Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Nation Inside / Media Democracy Fund

Case Study: Nation Inside / Media Democracy Fund FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Public Narrative / Rappaport Family Foundation

Case Study: Public Narrative / Rappaport Family Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Cornerstone Theater / Ford Foundation

Case Study: Cornerstone Theater / Ford Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Neighborhood Story Project / Private Funder

Case Study: Neighborhood Story Project / Private Funder FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Voice of Witness / Panta Rhea Foundation

Case Study: Voice of Witness / Panta Rhea Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Stories of Change / Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute

Case Study: Stories of Change / Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Witness / Overbrook Foundation

Case Study: Witness / Overbrook Foundation FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Health Media Initiative / Open Society Foundations

Case Study: Health Media Initiative / Open Society Foundations FacebookTwitterGoogle+