How to Collect Stories from Your Community

Last week, GlobalGivng staff Britt Lake, Marc Maxson, and Sarah Hennessy held a webinar on the recently announced Storytelling Fund. We reviewed some definitions and background on feedback, learned more about using the Storytelling Tool, and finally learning about applying to the Storytelling Fund.

Watch the recording here.

What is Feedback? Why is it important?

Collecting feedback is an important way for you to gather information from your community to improve the services you offer to your beneficiaries or constituents. Closing feedback loops helps you move beyond simply collecting data in community surveys- by acting on that information, and communicating those actions back to your constituents, you can engage your community in a more impactful cycle of learning and improving your work. You’ve heard us talking about listening, acting, and learning– closing a feedback loop helps your organization do all three.

Collecting and acting on feedback from your constituents is analogous to conducting consumer satisfaction surveys in a for-profit setting. These surveys help businesses measure their performance and adjust their activities accordingly. The same principle applies to collecting feedback from the community in which you work. This type of “bottom-up” information helps you adjust your programming to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your community, and amplifying your impact as much as possible.

There are a variety of effective ways to collect and act on feedback- and, with the new GG Effectiveness Dashboard, we are giving you credit for doing it! One method of collecting feedback from your community is through the GG Storytelling Tool. This tool guides you through the collection of stories from your community about the issues that they find most pressing, and then helps you analyze that qualitative data in order to help you discover how best adjust your programming. In short, this tool helps you make sense of a large amount of qualitative information (stories) by turning it into quantitative information (like more traditional M&E approaches).

What is the GG Storytelling Tool?

So how does the tool work? Here’s what the Storytelling Cycle looks like:

Storytelling lifecycle

Find information on the tool, as well as a step-by-step guide, here.

After building your storytelling form online, you can train a group of volunteers to take those forms into your community (using a computer or via paper) and collect stories. We call these volunteers “scribes”. We have found that using volunteers from your organization, rather than staff, can help in obtaining the least biased and most helpful stories. Remember, you should not just collect stories from your direct beneficiaries, but also look to your community at large for feedback. While it may seem like your direct beneficiaries would give you the best information about your programming, the most useful feedback will actually be both from those closest to your work, as well as those tangentially affected: parents, neighbors, and friends of your direct beneficiaries, who are all, in one way or another, effected by your organization.

After your collect at least 100 stories (don’t worry! That’s not nearly as many as it sounds, especially when you take into account that you will be reaching out to your wider local community for feedback), you can enter those stories into the online GG Storytelling tool. The tool will help you analyze those stories for trends, patterns, and allow you to sort the data in ways that will help you understand the current and potential impact of your programming.

Here is a quick breakdown of how to use the tool in your community:

  1. Design a form
  2. Recruit and train volunteers
  3. Collect stories from your community
  4. Transcribe (and translate) stories
  5. Analyze, reflect, learn and repeat.

Questions about how to use the Storytelling Tool? Be sure to check out this blog post, and feel free to contact Marc Maxson (mmaxson@globalgiving.org) for assistance!

What is the Storytelling Fund?

The Storytelling Fund offers financial support of up to $2000 to a Partner, Leader, or Superstar with at least one active project on globalgiving.org to use the Storytelling Tool. These funds may be used to offset incremental costs incurred in using this tool to collect stories. These may be, for example, offering incentives to your scribes, paying for translation or transcription services for your stories (all stories entered into the online tool must be in English), printing forms, or renting space/buying materials to train volunteers. The funds may not be used to pay regular salary for staff members, even if they are involved in collecting stories.

What do you mean by incentives?

We have found that organizations are most successful in collecting stories when they are able to offer incentives to scribes and storytellers for participating in the story collecting process. The value and form of these incentives will vary depending on the context of your community. For example, when piloting this tool in Kenya and Uganda, we found that paying scribes ten cents per story was sufficient compensation and encouraged enthusiastic participation. When we used the tool in Japan following the Tohuku earthquake and tsunami, our volunteers found that storytellers appreciated a small gift (valued at approximately $2 USD) in return for sharing their stories.

Additionally, winners will receive the following technical support:

  • A pre-collection call with a GlobalGiving storytelling expert to help design your story collection;
  • Participation in a training webinar on using the tool and analyzing the data for an unlimited number of staff;
  • Ongoing support from GlobalGiving storytelling experts while the initial storytelling is conducted;
  • One round of post-collection analysis.

Here is a sample budget to help you when applying for the Storytelling Fund:

Kenya:

  • $500 = 43500 Kenyan Shillings
  • 2000 KES for photocopying
  • 30,000 KES for scribe incentives (20 shillings per story = 1500 stories)
  • 13,500 KES for events, training, other group incentives

UK:

  • $800 would enable a UK-based organization to collect 300 stories using 15 volunteers who get 20 stories each:
  • $200 for a training event
  • $50 for office supplies
  • $250 individual prizes for the top 5 volunteers that collected the most stories with good quality.
  • $300 for group rewards (throw a party and have the volunteers share their experience, partake in the analysis after)

Your budget and incentives should be reasonable for the cost of working in your respective countries. That is why collecting stories in the UK is roughly 8 times more expensive.

Storytelling Fund Application Deadlines

The deadline to apply to the Storytelling Fund is Saturday, May 17. We will notify selected winners by June 1. If you are selected, funds will be sent after the first 100 stories are collected and entered into the Storytelling database.  It is the responsibility of the organization to notify GlobalGiving when the stories are collected and to submit receipts of the costs. The first 100 stories must be collected before September 1, 2014 or GlobalGiving reserves the right to revoke the funds.

Want to apply?  Here are the full Terms and Conditions:

  • Only GlobalGiving Partners, Leaders, and Superstars with active projects on GlobalGiving.org are eligible to apply.
  • Organizations may apply for a maximum of $2,000 in funds to be used to cover costs specific to story collecting, and must include a draft budget for the support sought.
  • Organizations receiving the funds must use the GlobalGiving storytelling tool to collect these community stories.  All stories become part of the GlobalGiving’s open source database.
  • Storytelling Funds can be used to cover incremental costs for collecting stories, including:
    • Printing or copying the story form
    • Volunteer/scribe/storyteller incentives (but not regular staff salary)
    • Translation and transcription of the forms or stories
    • Workshop space rental
  • Funds will be sent after the first 100 stories are collected and entered into the Storytelling database.  It is the responsibility of the organization to notify GlobalGiving when the stories are collected and to submit receipts of the costs.
  • The first 100 stories must be collected before September 1, 2014 or GlobalGiving reserves the right to revoke the funds.
  • In addition to funding, recipients selected for this opportunity also receive:
    • A pre-collection call with a GlobalGiving storytelling expert to help design your story collection;
    • Participation in a training webinar on using the tool and analyzing the data for an unlimited number of staff;
    • Ongoing support from GlobalGiving storytelling experts while the initial storytelling is conducted;
    • One round of post-collection analysis.
  • The deadline to apply is May 17, 2014.

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