July 21, 2010

Digital storytelling from soup to nuts

“Angie,” from Canada’s National Youth In Care Network.

Storytelling can be used to showcase a cause & bring about change

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, change-makers, media organizations, journalists, educators, students. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

Editor’s note: Digital storytelling is an amazing resource for change that’s too seldom used in the nonprofit sector. This lengthy tutorial consists of four parts:


By Denise Atchley
Co-founder, Digital Storytelling Festival

Digital storytelling can be used by nonprofits and cause organizations as a wonderful resource for social change.

While many digital stories are personal narratives used for sharing with friends and family, others can be created to offer insight and knowledge about a cause, a topic or a memorable figure. Communicating a message through story can be a powerful way to educate, encourage thought and initiate change. Digital stories offer people a chance to respond to world events or personal experiences, to process the event, interpret its significance and offer insight about how to bring about change.

A digital story about a cause can compel others to become involved, make a difference, effect change.

Consider a cause you care about or a life-altering experience. Then realize how stories told about this subject may compel others to become involved, make a difference, effect a change. Storytelling can be used as a resource for community and peace-building efforts, personal reflection and affirmation. Stories can be used as an archive or reference for historical events.

You should consider integrating digital storytelling into your organizations’ outreach efforts by self-publishing and distributing stories on your website or by authoring your own DVDs. Include your story in public presentations or speeches and screen it at meetings and gatherings. New media and independent publishing have enabled innovative and effective ways to get your message heard.Please share compelling cause-related stories you’ve come across in the comments below!

Getting started

The Digital Storytelling Initiative from KQED in San Francisco (see the site for workshop schedule) suggests several types of story styles you can use to create your digital story. Your instructor will show examples of each style to familiarize you with its format and be there to provide insight when you begin to conceptualize your project. Continue reading

July 15, 2010

Digital storytelling: A tutorial in 10 easy steps

“Thankful,” a digital story by Sarah Schmidt.


How to create a polished, powerful digital story for yourself or your nonprofit

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, educators, foundations, individuals. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

JD LasicaWith millions of videos floating around on the Web, I’d like to make the case today for a genre that has received far too little attention: digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling is a craft that uses the tools of digital technology to tell stories about our lives. Done properly, storytelling can be a powerful, evocative way of communicating

Let the people your nonprofit is helping tell their own impactful stories.

themes and stories, often touching us in deeper ways than one-dimensional videos that rarely probe beneath the surface of people’s lives. Nonprofits, especially, can use this technique to convey powerful, emotion-filled messages — by letting the people you’re helping tell their own stories.

If you plan to do it yourself, see our Visual story checklist to make sure you follow all the steps involved in creating a compelling story. You may also want to sign up for a digital storytelling workshop (see bottom), which can last from a few hours to a full day or two and generally costs a modest tuition fee. Either way, follow the following steps and you’ll be on your way.

Decide on the story you want to tell

Step 1You probably already have a person or subject in mind. Think small. Focus. Don’t get caught up trying to convey all the aspects of someone’s life — you’re not writing the great American novel, you’re creating what will optimally be a 3- to 5-minute work that recounts a personal tale and reveals a small truth.

KQED Digital Storytelling Initiative

What form should your story take? In their decade of leading workshops, Joe Lambert and Nina Mullen of the Center for Digital Storytelling list these main varieties of digital stories:

The story about someone important. Character stories center on a person who’s touched you in a deep way. Often, these stories reveal as much about the narrator as about the subject of the piece. Memorial stories pay tribute to someone who passed on but left a lasting impression.

The story about an event in your life. Travel stories — stories about a personal journey or passage — can be effective if they result in the narrator being transformed by the experience in some way.

Accomplishment stories about achieving a goal, graduating from school, or winning an honor can easily fit into the framework of the desire-struggle-realization structure of a classic story. Continue reading