3 Tips for Telling Stories That Move People to Action

By Paul VanDeCarr, The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Heard any good social-change stories lately?

Did they move you to action? Did they make you think different about the meaning of justice?

“For purposes of advocacy, a story is only as good as the impact it has on how audiences understand an issue or get involved,” says Susan Nall Bales, the founder and executive director of the FrameWorks Institute, a research group that helps nonprofits communicate about social problems. “It’s an empirical question whether a story moves audiences to support policies or engage with an issue.” Ms. Bales’s team of cognitive and social scientists conducts research on how to frame stories about social issues and trains advocates to create change based on that research. Last month, the group won a $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Here are a few of the organization’s findings, which include some unconventional ideas.

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