How to tell impact and social change stories in a way that resonates

July 28, 2021

Empathy, creativity and contextualization are crucial to describing social changes and impact in a way that resonates. 

In this blog, we share 3 practical insights for removing barriers in making dissemination, communication and reporting efforts meaningful and understandable. If you want to receive insights and tips to make research communication sign up to our newsletter! 

Choose language based on your audience 

Think about how to make your communications accessible and relevant to the audiences you want to reach. It may help to create a list of intended audiences and what the goal is for this communication activity. You can then craft appropriate messages with empathy, and a human-centered approach. Keep in mind the importance of using language that is approachable and understandable to anyone - let’s face it, a majority of the acronyms we commonly use are probably not needed. Additionally, where possible make your communications available in languages other than English to increase access to your materials and insights.

Ensure the right voices are represented

Whose voice is represented in your communication efforts? Are you speaking on behalf of someone or are the voices of groups shaping the communication activity? Decolonizing social-change communications requires putting the “voices” of women and girls, men and boys, at the center. 

We recommend connecting with communities to understand what would be helpful to portray and communicate from their perspective and ensure different voices and narratives are represented. To collect these, innovative approaches like participatory storytelling workshops can help to avoid asking vulnerable community members to fill in survey after survey. Interweaving these different stories and narratives with quantitative and contextual insights, also provides a way to craft compelling narratives that are nuanced and honor the voices of communities.

Contextualize change 

Context matters. Social dynamics, institutional and legal constraints or economic barriers are crucial to understand the need for social-change, together with existing levers and barriers to pursue it. Communication efforts should provide enough context to help anyone understand these nuances and why this is necessary and matters. Capturing contextual realities is crucial to help the audience understand the importance of place-based solutions and to move away from one-size fits all approaches to social-change. As readers, we are captured with stories and narratives that transport us and create empathetic responses. In this sense, describing change in context is crucial to humanize communications. 

If you are interested in working with us to produce case studies, evaluation or impact reports for your organization, reach out at: If you want to hear about other creative ways to communicate your impact, sign up to our newsletter.

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