Eight Local Non-Profits Selected for 2022 StoryGrowing WNY

The Health Foundation for Western & Central New York and The John R. Oishei Foundation-sponsored program aims to bolster marketing communications skills with a storytelling focus

Eight local nonprofit organizations have been selected from a field of 32 applicants to participate in the 2022 StoryGrowing WNY program, hosted by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and The John R. Oishei Foundation aimed at building capacity in marketing and communications.

Delayed and revised in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is now back to full strength including five in-person and in-depth workshops focusing on marketing communications skills. The collaborative program is designed to enhance and expand the ability of non-profit organizations to share their story effectively and to nurture their organization’s growth through effective communications.

The selected teams include:
• Aquarium of Niagara Falls
• Community Action Organization of WNY
• Community Health Center of Buffalo
• Field & Fork
• Kevin Guest House
• Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Clubs
• Summit Center

The free program offers teaching, coaching, and mentoring and will help organizations build their internal capacity in identifying and applying various story types and using stories in advocacy, development, communications, and community outreach. Teams will also develop skills in branding, in-person storytelling, and using tools such as video, digital media, and public relations to tell their stories.

The program kicked off with a free webinar hosted by Andy Goodman, an internationally recognized storytelling expert, author, and speaker, and his partner Kirsten Farrell, on the seven types of stories that was open to any interested nonprofit professionals. Nonprofits were then encouraged to apply for the in-person and in-depth program that will run from June through August that includes workshops taught by local marketing, communications, PR, and digital media experts. Goodman will return for the final workshop that will focus on ethical storytelling and asset framing.

Each team is assigned a team advisor to guide them through the program and can take advantage of additional coaching hours from the workshop instructors to further their knowledge as they integrate the teachings into their organization’s marketing/communications efforts. Because the workshop presenters, team advisors, and coaches are local professionals, the participants can also expand their networks of local experts in the marketing and communications fields and the training they receive.

Program applicants were evaluated based on their communications need, their ability to successfully complete the program, and their willingness to integrate storytelling into their overall culture. Also considered was creating a cohort of teams that reflect a variety of services and geographic areas, and that are reflective of the focus areas of the two foundations that host the program. Teams are required to attend all workshops and to include at least one senior leader as part of their team.

StoryGrowing WNY was modeled on a similar program held by the Health Foundation in Central New York in 2016 and then brought to the WNY area in 2017-2018 and in 2019 as a partnership between the Health Foundation and the Oishei Foundation. Planned for 2020, an in-person kickoff event was held featuring Goodman that enjoyed strong turnout but the program had to be canceled due to COVID in early 2020.

To learn more, go to www.storygrowingwny.org