Storytelling for Advocacy

Seize the Narrative: Use the Power of Personal Stories to Support Campaign Objectives

A teambuilding storytelling session, illustrated with a drawing of a speaker addressing an audience.
A group engaged in storytelling seated in a room.

Personal storytelling is a powerful advocacy tool that builds solidarity and inspires collective action.

We have a 25-year track record of successful partnerships with philanthropies, foundations, non-governmental and community organizations to identify impactful, on-the-ground stories for use in advocacy. Working with individuals and communities, we empower marginalized populations to create and own their stories—to seize their narrative. We work with stakeholders to connect these personal stories to policy goals. Relevant personal stories act as the kindling for social transformation.

The effective deployment of personal storytelling in advocacy campaigns is a step-wise process. We work with program officers and their grantees to:

  • articulate urgent outcomes at the heart of the campaign
  • practice deep listening in order to identify audiences and representative storytellers
  • excavate and craft personal experiences into stories according to our 7 step method
  • train storytellers in the art of presentation

“I’ve heard about changing lives, transforming communities, but I’ve never heard it as powerfully as through the stories you told. ”

— Donor to the Harlem RBI / Dream Charter School

The Power of Storytelling

Akif Kariman, a Roma activist, presenting a story about Roma stigmatization, developed with Narativ to use in his advocacy work on behalf of the Roma people in Europe.



Determine goals and outcomes, identify audiences, analyze current messaging, develop storytelling prompts, and decide final deliverables.


Drawing from years of experience working in public health advocacy since the AIDS crisis of the 1980s-90s, and building on a decade of partnering with the Open Society Foundations’ public health programs, our training programs are designed to produce individual stories that empower participants to confidently express their advocacy messages. But they do more than that because the experience of listening and storytelling naturally brings participants together, uncovers untold stories and evolves campaign messaging itself.


We work to create an appropriate and ethically sound space that acknowledges every person’s voice and encourages people to speak for themselves rather than be spoken for by others. Many of our clients find growth and healing in the process we offer, as well as an actionable skill set that leads to the change they seek.


Training Programs: A series of tailored storytelling workshops for leadership, staff, collaborators, outreach teams, community members, or affected populations.

Presentation Training: Individual sessions with our expert trainers to further develop and hone storytelling presentation skills.

Train the Trainer: Let the few inspire the many through additional training and guidance that allows program participants to train other members of a community or affected population in storytelling, so that a critical mass of stories develops at the heart of a movement or campaign.

Reflection: A post-workshop survey process of creation and review to measure impact, and a final report to disseminate learnings and next steps.


Presentation-Ready Stories: A 4-minute personal story ready for a presentation that contains the details that matter, an emotional arc, and a powerful conclusion. Additionally, we offer consultation about the application of stories in various forms of media or other contexts, where stories may need to be shortened, or lengthened, depending on the goal.

Community Archive: A organized database of personal stories for use in research, training, advocacy, and media campaigns.

Synthesis and Strategy: An overview of our engagements with impact measures, opportunity areas and suggested strategies to further your storytelling practice

Some of Our Advocacy Partners
UnicefOpen Society FoundationsMeasures for Justice, Human Rights Watch, Columbia University School of Narrative Medicine

A storyteller advocating for a cause speaks into a microphone to a group of people.

Learn More About Storytelling for Advocacy

a man in a suit and glasses smiling.

Turn your employees into storytellers capable of transforming your organization!