The importance of digital storytelling in the social sector

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 | No Comments

The rise of the online video reinforces the importance of storytelling in society. It reflects the basic desire and need for humans to contextualise every aspect of their lives into stories and also relate to them. Castle Pictures has been doing this readily for the last year with clients such as ASB Charitable Trust and Auckland Women’s Centre. But using video is still a widely untapped resource in the academic and NGO world of research and evaluation.

A short video, alongside important and more detailed reports or presentations, gives both the head honchos and the general public, a stronger incentive to pay attention to the often brilliant work of social agencies and researchers. Video can take many forms; from a short, sharp clip to a longer documentary style film that could include an overview of the agency or service, interviews with users or stakeholders, policy recommendations and goals for the future.

It also gives these social bodies the most important missing factor: a face. The reason many of these services exist, is through empathy and a deeper understanding of the worlds that are underrepresented or lacking necessary support. And if this is the case, how can a wad of paper do these people, animals or environmental causes justice?

But it’s expensive and risky to hand your organisation or research over to a filmmaker who may or may not understand, or care, about the cause. Do they have the necessary skills to create a compelling story? Will they be true to us and the messages we need to convey? Will they respect privacy and cultural differences? Are our clients going to be portrayed well or as victims? These are all important questions to ask when you consider making a video. But the results are undeniable and enviable. The power of storytelling can and does move people, sometimes enough to truly affect change.

Here are some interesting articles on the use of online video:

Moving a crowd –

For academics –

Non-profit, debating the use of shock tactics in charity videos –


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