New guide launched, “Better Conversations about Ethical Storytelling,” to help transform what stories we tell and how they are told

September 7, 2023

Nancy Onyango

Download the guide here 

Consisting of six chapters and a series of videos, the guide was co-created with input from over 140 participants – including civil society and those with lived experience. Chapters cover making the business case for ethical storytelling, measuring impact, building trust and putting this into practice.

“The landscape is evolving to one that is more socially aware. Our audiences and our funders are evolving,” said Victor Mark-Onyegbu, Grants Lead at Africa No Filter. One of the findings is that ethical storytelling is not simply a case of telling the same stories more ethically, but diversifying the kinds of stories we tell. Giving a platform to people with lived experience to share their opinions and solutions enhances decision-making, program effectiveness and builds trust.

For decades, some commentary has suggested that narratives have inadvertently perpetuated stereotypes painting communities as problems to be saved rather than as part of the solution. Levis Nderitu, from PATH, said that “As we all become more conscious of the need for power shifts, it has become important for organizations to update storytelling practices to keep up with industry norms”.

Chilande Kuloba-Warria, one of the authors, emphasized the need for community voices to be at the forefront of storytelling: “We have this African proverb that says until the lion learns how to write, every story will always glorify the hunter. That’s the spirit of the narrative I see needing to change, because too rarely do we see and hear the voices of the very same communities that we are looking to serve.”

“Instead of simply offering one-off guidance, this project takes a conversational approach which is intended to stimulate better conversations about ethical storytelling. Rather than present any one perspective as ‘right’, we make room for different perspectives, surface tricky judgments and invite the reader to reflect on the challenges. Our contributors, who all have lived expertise, tell us that this is the way to elevate the agency of communities around the world,” said M&C Saatchi World Services Director of Strategy Andy Wright, whose agency led the facilitation of the project.

The toolkit was shaped by organizations such as Africa No Filter, BRAC, CARE and Grantmakers for Girls of Color. It was facilitated by M&C Saatchi World Services with a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This free guide and a full list of contributors is available here

Chapters authored by:
Chilande Kuloba-Warria Warande Advisory Centre
David Verga PATH
• Levis Nderitu PATH
• Shalini Moodley MetroGroup
• Diah Dwiandani Ford Foundation
• Denis Koech SHOFCO / Farm Input Promotions Africa
• Denis Muwanguzi Mama Hope/ Budondo Intercultural Centre
• Josefina Casati Grantmakers for Girls of Color
• Sarah Jane Saltmarsh, BRAC

Contributions from the following:
• Clare Spurrell, CARE
• Victor Mark-Onyegbu, Africa No Filter
• Gertrude Zoe Kabwaz, Yamba Malawi
• Patience Musiwa-Mkandawire, Fount for Nations
• Monica Nyiraguhabwa, Girl Up Initiative Uganda
• Jennifer Mwikali Katiwa, Jitegemee Children
• Chloe Namwase, Wezesha Impact
• Raquel Thomas, Grantmakers for Girls of Color
• Michel Lunanga, Doctors Without Borders/Lens on Life
• Mardiyah Chamim, Development Dialogue Asia
• Ari Trismana, WatchdoC Indonesia
• Michelin Sallata, Barisan Pemuda Adat Nunsantara
• Matthew and Tracy Angus Hammond, T2T Africa
• Lamea Tanjin Tanha, TransEnd
• Shakil Ahmed, Ridiculous Futures
• Peter Torres Fremlin, Disability Debrief
• Amy Frisch, SS+K (New York)
Jane Body, Mama Hope
• Lydia Bradley. MercyCorps
• Eddy Zheng, New Breath Foundation
• Kellie Ryan, International Rescue Committee
• Anthony Ramos, Children’s Aid
• Parul Sheth, Shaishav Children
• Synoeun Nov, Empowering Youth in Cambodia
• Raphaël Poutignat, Empowering Youth in Cambodia
• Jessica Kirk-Bowman, Mercy Corps
• Ana Maria Olarte, Mercy Corps
• Jess Crombie, University of the Arts London
Heba Aly, The New Humanitarian
• Joanna Colangelo, Razem Worldwide


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