Inspiration and Resources for Creating Powerful Digital Storytelling

A little over five years ago, when a small group of TechSoup staffers began a conversation about what it would look like to build community through education and empowerment, storytelling seemed to be the golden ticket.

We created TechSoup‘s digital storytelling challenge to help nonprofits and social good organizations communicate differently, and to educate and share resources with our community — so that powerful and effective stories would be noticed and heard by a global audience.

More than a contest, Storymakers is about building community. Storytelling is the currency of community, after all. And it remains a great way to sustain and enrich an expanding network of global NGOs while providing much-needed guidance and resources to the sector.

Since launching the digital storytelling challenge, we’ve witnessed the transformation of digital storytelling through various mediums and platforms. We’ve experienced the rise and fall of many story making technologies. What remains constant, however, is the continued power of stories to engage and influence emotions, values, opinions, and imaginations.

Whether your efforts are just starting out, or if you’re already a seasoned storyteller, our hope is to inspire storytelling in all aspects of your annual programming. We want to give you the knowledge and tools to tell your most powerful story. Especially now as so many nonprofits turn their attention to year-end fundraising drives, we want to make sure that storytelling is a core part of your toolkit.

If you’re having trouble imagining how to use storytelling in your own programming efforts, take a look at the inspiring winners of TechSoup’s Storymakers 2014 contest and hear their reasons why storytelling matters at their organization.

The Winners

Best Story Award, grand prize
Hope House: Camp Counselor Tyron by Stone Soup Films
“At Stone Soup Films, we are dedicated to shining a light on small organizations who are making a big impact in their communities and firmly believe in the power of digital storytelling to inspire action. Hope House honored us by allowing our cameras into a maximum security prison to document their camp program reconnecting children with their incarcerated fathers,” said Liz Norton, executive director, Stone Soup Films.

Youth or STEM Story Award
Free Running in Baltimore by Wide Angle Youth Media, created by Tyson Sanford-Griffin
“‘Free Running in Baltimore’ was created in Wide Angle Youth Media’s Mentoring Video Project Program. The film was made by our youth participant, Tyson Sanford-Griffin, whose love of free running has been hampered by safety concerns in urban Baltimore. His story encourages audience members to make their own communities a safe place where people can feel free to go outside and run without inhibition,” said Sheila Wells, program director, Wide Angle Youth Media.

Super-Short Award, for a story under 20 seconds
Shine a Light on Avoidable Blindness by Operation Eyesight
“Imagine a world without light, without sight. When you are blind, it’s like being in a dark hole. Operation Eyesight works to prevent blindness in the developing world. We wanted to create a video that explains how tragic avoidable blindness can be, and we’re delighted to be recognized for our work in the 20-second storytelling category,” said Lynne Dulaney, director of communications, Operation Eyesight.

Best New Storyteller Award, for an organization new to digital storytelling
Dr. Mark Karnes by Soddo Christian Hospital
Ken Amstutz, president of St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation, shared that, “this video was produced by Seth Demings, a filmmaker who visited the hospital in March 2014 and felt compelled to record and share some stories about what is happening in Soddo, Ethiopia.”

Audience Choice Award, voted on by the community
Where Manos Serves by Manos Internacional
Belinda Wells, volunteer vice president of Manos Internacional said, “While digital storytelling can be a daunting task, TechSoup’s Storymakers campaign workshops gave us the courage to actually sit down with hours of footage and photos to compile something that would briefly and meaningfully express our story.”

The Storymakers campaign happens every year, with great cash prizes. So dive into TechSoup’s digital storytelling resources now,start creating stories for your organization, and make sure you enter them into next year’s contest!

Alexandra Bezdikian
Interactive Events and Video Producer
Alexandra (Ale) Bezdikian is TechSoup's interactive events and video producer. She writes story-driven pieces for the TechSoup blog and helps manage the annual digital storytelling campaign, Storymakers. You can find her on Twitter as @alebez.