New StoryGrowing initiative building community capacity in storytelling

In April 2016, 11 organizations in central New York began a six-month learning program called StoryGrowing, a new initiative to build nonprofit and community capacity in storytelling.

Since we first began talking to each other, telling stories has been a powerful way to capture our attention, engage an audience, and motivate them to act. As we learn more about how our minds work, we’re also discovering that stories are intrinsic to decision-making and shape our view of the world.

But what kinds of stories should nonprofits be telling? And how? Back in May 2015, more than 200 individuals from 63 different nonprofit organizations across central New York joined us and The Gifford Foundation to find out the answers to these questions from Andy Goodman, one of the nation’s top experts on storytelling at ‘Change the Story, Change the World’ in Syracuse.

But when the workshop was over, we didn’t want the story to end, so we worked with the Gifford Foundation and The Central New York Community Foundation over the past year to gather input from nonprofits and design the StoryGrowing initiative.

For the 11 four-person teams participating, StoryGrowing includes:

  • Six 2.5 hour workshops featuring a curriculum designed with nonprofit input;
  • Access to a variety of experts in the field to serve as individual coaches to each organization; and
  • A final celebratory event in fall 2016

Local professionals from nonprofits, performing arts, marketing and media organizations, as well as universities, are teaching on topics such as ethical techniques for interviewing; gathering and sharing stories; best practices for presenting stories; ensuring that stories are told internally; culturally appropriate storytelling; and working on a budget.

The project will culminate in October 2016 with a community celebration. Activities at this celebration will be designed and presented by the StoryGrowing teams.

If you have questions please contact Heidi Holtz at the Gifford Foundation, who is coordinating StoryGrowing, at or 315-474-2489 ext. 12