This page contains my curation of the best storytelling resources for businesses and nonprofit organizations that I’ve found over the past few years.
If you know of any business or nonprofit storytelling resources that should be included in this list, please share them with me.
Click on these links for easy navigation:
The Power of Story & Storytelling Books
Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story
by Kendall Haven
Kendall has collected and analyzed research that validates “the startling power of story.”
The Responsive Chord
by Tony Schwartz
This is an old book (1972), but it has an important message for storytellers of today. We must craft our communication to strike a responsive chord that resonates with our audience if we want to influence their behavior.
Nonprofit Storytelling Books
These books are written specifically to help nonprofits tell their stories.
Storytelling for Grantseekers: A Guide to Creative Nonprofit Fundraising
by Cheryl A. Clarke
Cheryl acknowledges that storytelling can be used effectively in both the for-profit and nonprofit fields. The book is based on the premise that “storytelling is at the core of all successful fundraising.”
How to Say It: Grantwriting: Write Proposals That Grantmakers Want to Fund
by Deborah S. Koch
While this is not a book about “storytelling,” this A-to-Z manual for grantseekers stresses the importance of telling your story “in a clear, cogent, accessible, and gripping way that will resonate with the well-chosen grantmaker.”
General Storytelling Books
These books are about business storytelling designed to inspiring your audience to advocate for your organization.
The Story Factor
by Annette Simmons
Every nonprofit must know “The Six Stories You Need to Know How to Tell.” PERIOD. Find out what they are in this book.
Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements [Hardcover]
by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church & Spike Jones
I believe that great storytelling will ensure the sustainability of virtually any nonprofit. This book explains how this dynamic works through word of mouth movements.
My Favorite Nonprofit Storytelling Professionals
- Storytelling as Best Practice – A booklet that collects the best advice on storytelling that has been featured in his Free-Range Thinking™ article series.
- Seven Questions to Sharpen Your Stories – An article from his Free-Range Thinking™ article series.
- The 10 Immutable Laws of Storytelling – An article from his Free-Range Thinking™ article series.
- Stories or Data: Which Makes the Stronger Case? - An article from his Free-Range Thinking™ article series.
- Storytelling: Your Most Powerful Communications Tool – A webinar with slides.
- Storytelling as Best Practice – A keynote address at Housing California’s annual Spring Conference on YouTube.
- Storytelling for Good Causes – An audio recording of a presentation at the Innovation Summit
Kivi Leroux Miller
- The Storytelling Archives at Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog.
Katya Andresen & Macon Morehouse
- How to Tell Your Story: Tips for Better Storytelling, Fundraising Success & Media Glory - This is the transcript of a presentation at Nonprofit 911 sponsored by Network for Good. They also discuss generating media interest in your story.
- Put Persuasive Storytelling to Work for Your Nonprofit – An article discussing the elements of a good story.
- GetStoried.com is where Michael Margolis teaches businesses and nonprofit organizations tell better stories.
- 4 Steps to Stronger (Hero-focused) Appeals – An article discussing the importance of the hero in your story.
Research Studies on the Power of Stories
Sympathy and Giving
- Sympathy and callousness: The impact of deliberative thought on donations to identifiable and statistical victims – Deborah A. Small, George Loewenstein & Paul Slovic - When donating to charitable causes, people do not value lives consistently. Money is often concentrated on a single victim even though more people would be helped, if resources were dispersed or spent protecting future victims.
- The Scarecrow and the Tin Man: The Vicissitudes of Human Sympathy and Caring – George Loewenstein & Deborah A. Small - Why do some victims elicit outpourings of sympathy from those who are unaffected, while others do not?
- Reference-dependent sympathy – Deborah A. Small - Natural disasters and other traumatic events often draw a greater charitable response than do ongoing misfortunes, even those that may cause even more widespread misery, such as famine or malaria. Why is the response disproportionate to need? People respond greater to victims of loss than to victims of chronic conditions.
- Storytelling and story reading: A comparison of effects on children’s memory and story comprehension – Matthew P. Gallets – In this portion of the project, the effects of storytelling and story reading were compared. The population studied consisted of kindergarten, first, and second grade students. Half the students were read stories aloud, the other half were told the same stories by a storyteller. Data were collected regarding students ability to recall facts they had heard, as well as students skill in using formal story elements. The students’ interpretations of story meaning were also examined. Students in both the reading and storytelling groups improved on most measures. However, on some measures, notably those regarding recall ability, students in the storytelling group improved more than students in the reading group.
- Please visit my YouTube curation of video nonprofit storytelling resources.
Please note that all of the book links are Amazon.com affiliate links.