Take the Ethical Storytelling Pledge

Thanks to the digital age, we live in a new era of storytelling and fundraising.

Whether through blogs, emails, social media or video, using story to highlight an organization’s impact is an engaging way to invite people into the good work being done. From the complexities of social issues to the benefits and downsides of nuanced solutions, great stories not only inspire but educate. Yet, all too often, organizations view stories as merely a way to raise funds. This reduces stories to a mere transaction, when they are so much more.

Stories have the power to show someone a mirror-image of their best self. To encourage people to hold on when going through difficult times. And to inspire others to act. Stories change our world.

We are a community of practitioners engaging the messy yet beautiful conversation around storytelling in the social impact space. At Ethical Storytelling, we believe people’s stories are more than emotion-generating machines. That story consumers are more than guzzlers of emotion. And that stories should always be constituent first, donor second. We aspire to tell stories that are truthful, nuanced, educational and empowering. Not just for donors or for branding, but because stories shape our humanity and our world.

This pledge is an aim to focus on the HOW not only the WHAT of the stories we may encounter – but maybe should not always tell – in the work we do.

As storytellers and non-profit practitioners shaping the way the world sees people’s lives:

We pledge to:

 

  • Tell others’ stories the way we want our story told.
  • Always put people first.
  • Explain to constituents the purpose of the story, where it will be used and answer any questions they might have before photographing, filming or recording.
  • Find an able translator if we speak different languages.
  • Ask the constituent if they wish to be named or identified and act according to their wishes.
  • Use all images and messages with the full understanding, participation and permission of the constituent or the constituent’s legal guardian.
  • Uphold the dignity of our constituents through empowering imagery and messages that motivate engagement and inspire hope.
  • Truthfully represent a situation or story to educate our audiences of the realities, complexities and nuances of the issues we advocate for.
  • Not use images, footage or words that sensationalize or stereotype a person or a situation.
  • Ask for feedback from our constituents and incorporate this feedback into the final story.
  • Abide by international law, standards and protocols related to vulnerable persons, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • Listen to our constituents’ voices and respect their decisions, story and journey.
  • Hold a posture of humility and learning, recognizing that failures can be our biggest educators.
  • Seek advice if we question whether a particular story, message or image is not in alignment with ethical storytelling practices.
  • Not tell the story, despite the resources invested, when the story cannot be told with the integrity of this pledge.
  • Take ownership of our responsibility to uphold integrity in our storytelling and messaging.

As a community of nonprofit practitioners and storytellers we commit to learning from the past and integrating a new standard of storytelling as we journey together into the future.

Sign the pledge

I pledge to be a bridge builder, working to tell better stories that respect and honor all people involved.

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Latest Signatures
234 Ben C. USA Ben Crenshaw Inc.
233 Dina E. Australia Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW - twenty10.org.au
232 Stephanie D. United States Big Thought
231 Amy M. USA Presbyterian Church (USA)
230 Maureen R. Australia
229 Jessica H. United States Year
228 Sandra B. United States
227 Kristina S. United States Alabama Possible
226 Kate T. Harvest Bridge
225 Kathleen C. United States Helping Children Worldwide
224 Lauren S. United States Canopy Northwest Arkansas
223 Brennon B. United States Help One Now
222 Veerawit T. Thailand Wattana Seree Foundation
221 Jonathan E. Thailand The CATCH Project
220 Jonny H. Cambodia Care for Cambodia
219 Gillian W. United States EarthRights International
218 Roxanne E. USA Hawa Images
217 Ozlem E. USA Independent Scholar
216 Joanna Y. Canada Axis
215 Stephanie H. United States Blue Ridge Literacy
214 Anne W. Australia Gyanankur English Medium School
213 Katina H. United States
212 Sweena V. Usa
211 Maggie P. United States
210 Caitlin W. Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
209 Josh S. United States
208 Anna D. United States Angel Oak Creative
207 Jess H. United Kingdom COCO
206 Olivia A. United States
205 Jenifer K. Thailand Home of Hope
204 May Kuan L. Australia
203 Joane B. Mexico Compasio Global Child Advocates
202 Joh T. US Regent University
201 Meegan D. United States
200 Erin V. USA
199 Sharyn A. USA
198 Veronicka T. United States
197 Rachel C.
196 Jennifer C. United States
195 Lindsay F. United States
194 Lauren G. United States
193 Caitlin S. United States
192 Jessica W.
191 Camilla R. United States Koinonia Homes for Teens
190 Kay H. United States Tributaries International
189 Cara M. United States Hope Church
188 Megan D. Va
187 Bonnie T. USA Hospice Care of SC
186 Miriam E. Germany The Justice Project e.V.
185 Cassie V. Cambodia Destiny Rescue

Join our Ethical Storytelling 101 Workshop to hear from filmmaker Heidi Burkey, The Freedom Story President Rachel Goble & others as they lay a foundation for what it means to tell story ethically in our non-profits.