CSRinsights: Cultivate Change through Storytelling

When an individual decides to support a cause, it‘s simply because they care. But how does one get inspired to care in the first place? Access to information around social issues and emotion-inducing stories play a large role in giving decisions. With this in mind, consider how you can create a learning culture and promote storytelling within your philanthropic culture, energizing employees to give.

To illustrate this point— our culture at YourCause is around community, supporting diverse causes and sharing experiences that are meaningful to grasp a greater understanding. YourCause Founder Matthew Combs and Account Manager Brian Lind were shocked that 16,000 children die each day from lack of food or nutrition and decided to understand a hunger victim‘s plight by challenging themselves to a three day fast.

Matthew and Brian‘s perspectives changed through this 72-hour journey, becoming more sympathetic to those suffering and grew more apt to support hunger organizations. They voluntarily kept a diary to document their experience and share the agony that results from hunger to influence others to care.

We aren‘t saying you should challenge your employees to a three day fast. However, you can create opportunities for employees to become active in causes they learn about and, in turn, inspire employees to cultivate stories that motivate them and others to take action.

1. Create a Learning Culture

Do you provide your employees the information, communications and tools to learn more about social issues they (and the company) support? If our team members did not have access to information around the startling statistics of hunger – then there would have been no challenge, no story and no action taken.

Simply spark employees‘ interests in causes by giving them the opportunity to learn more by sharing the company‘s philanthropic vision and aggregating information on nonprofit partners. In addition, community programs with interactive tools can facilitate communication between employees to gain more knowledge about what their peers are doing to make a difference.

2. Encourage Storytelling to Increase Participation

Philanthropy is more expressive than instrumental. Therefore, powerful employee storytelling within company culture delivers more impact.

Since philanthropy is voluntary and expressive, positive change must emerge from choices that givers make not because someone says they ‗should,‘ but because it excites and energizes them as givers,‖ said Katherine Fulton and Andrew Blau, Cultivating Change in Philanthropy.

Get creative in channeling inspiring stories through video, recognition programs, internal newsletters and more. Allowing employees‘ voices to be heard generates momentum in understanding what cause means to them, increasing participation in programs.

3. Utilize Storytelling to Influence Giving

If you have a learning culture and encourage storytelling – how does this translate to impact? Storytelling influences donor giving decisions and increases motivation to give back to a cause that inspired them.

People are twice as likely to give a charitable gift when presented an emotion-inducing personal story of one victim that focuses exclusively on his or her plight, according to Network for Good‘s Homer Simpson for Nonprofits.

The employee needs the right toolset to take action for the causes that inspire them. Therefore, employees need to know where and how to give once they have learned about a cause they care about. The power of storytelling lies in the end result of generating social value for the company.

Storytelling at YourCause

Hunger: More Than a Startling Statistic

A Three Day Diary Documenting the Reality of an Empty Stomach:

Hour 37 >> I have been thinking a lot about the children, even here in the US, that go to school every day without having eaten and who’s schools don’t have programs to feed them. I think of how hard it must be to simply pay attention and functional normally – let alone optimally. Being hungry is really forcing me to narrow my realm of focus and only really give my attention to those things that i truly need to focus on. Forget day dream, forget exploring new things.

Hour 70 >> These last 5 and now 2 hours are going by painfully slow. It’s almost hard to believe how slowly time seems to be elapsing, it makes me wonder if someone who doesn’t have a set schedule of when they get to eat, someone who can’t regularly depend on meals, is there a constant fear of the unknown? It has to be mentally almost as challenging as it is physically to not steal from or hurt someone who does have food when you don’t know when or where the next bite is going to come from.

…click here to read the full diary! 

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