Storymaking Methods For Project Videos

For close to 20 years I have studied, experimented with, taught, and presented on digital storytelling — and I still have much to learn. For the purposes of the Project Community video projects, I wanted to assemble something to share to help you with the modality of making a video. Mostly, I hope to encourage you to think of the typical report / essay approach of presenting information.

Initially I was planning to produce a video about making video, but I have many examples to share, and decided on a blogged approach so you can go through to skip at your own pace. What follows below is distilled from a collection of talks and workshops from the last few years (found among the pile at

Mostly, I like to ask students to consider the narrative format of media they watch for interest or pleasure- film, television, internet meme videos, even commercials. Rarely do you see bullet points, outlines, or telling you of the conclusion from the start. For effective video campaigns, you really ought to consider what works well for effective storymaking, and then be prepared to say, none of the rules are etched into truth.

So make a big batch of popcorn, and sit back for a long blog post. Continue reading Storymaking Methods For Project Videos

YouTube and NGOs – Article from Guardian Global Development

While this article uses a water related NGO (attention IWF teams!) the advice may be relevant to any of your clients. It is about NGO’s collaborating with the hugely successful independent “YouTubers” who attract millions of views to their home made videos. Check it out.

YouTube and aid: How NGOs can harness the power for good

I loved this resonant quote:

When charities choose to work with YouTubers they need to be prepared to relax their usual editorial control, which can be a problem for some organisations.

And, here is an example YouTube video:

Another Soul Searching Review of the Sustainable Development Goals

As a person who works in international development, I am always teetering on that sharp edge of wondering if development work is really doing good for the people who need it – the poorest. My concerns are two-fold:

First, most theories of change to raise people out of poverty are growth based. This article does a good job of looking at this issue. I share a brief snippet to lure you into reading the full article, entitled The Sustainable Development Goals: A Siren and Lullaby for Our Times

At first glance, the rhetoric of the SDGs seems irresistible. They talk about eliminating poverty “in all its forms, everywhere” by 2030, through “sustainable development” and even addressing extreme inequality. None of which we would argue with of course. But as with all half-truths, one just has to dig beneath the surface for motivations to unravel.

Recent research by economist David Woodward shows that to lift the number of people living under $1.25 a day (in “international dollars”) above the official SDG poverty line, we would have to increase global GDP by 15 times – assuming the best-case-scenario in growth rates and inequality trends from the last 30 years. That means the average global GDP per capita would have to rise to nearly $100,000 in 15 years, triple the average U.S. income right now. In a global economy that is so inefficient at distributing wealth, where 93 cents of every dollar of wealth created ends up in the hands of the richest 1%, more growth is only going to enrich the rich while destroying the planet in its wake.

Of course, it is completely possible to achieve the necessary goal of reducing poverty, but not through the UN’s growth-based, business-as-usual strategy. Poverty can only be eradicated by 2030 if we address two critical issues head on: income inequality and endless material growth.

The second thing I worry about is the folly of those of us in the “north” assuming we know what is good and right for the poor. We can only, at best, be partners. Not saviors. That mentality gets us into a lot of trouble.

What do you think? As you work with your NGOs, how do you view your own work?

Image: flickr photo by Scott..? shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Are We Designing Capacity Limiting Solutions?

vusblogOne of my favorite non profit blogs here in the US is “Non Profits With Balls” written by a smart and funny guy from Seattle named Vu.  Today he posted an article that might resonate with your small NGOs – in fact, you may want to share it with them. It may influence your own projects!

Sustainable Development Goals and Alternative Financing

sustfinanceAs we discuss ideas for your various NGO clients, one thing is clear. They are all small, so they have to look creatively at not only how they finance their own actions,  but more importantly, the solutions they seek to give to the world have to be financed as well.

There is an emerging field of looking at social entrepreneurship and alternative ways of financing. If you want to consider how this might be useful to your NGO, check this out 

Collaboration + Communication = Cooperation

imageIn 2012 we started Project Community in this form and shape. We (I mean Nancy & Alan actually) made it visible. I was along for the ride and was way more Confusiastic than any of you possibly could have been even though I had already been working at IDE for almost a year.

Students were very worried for the first two weeks, and to be honest, so was I. Today I have the luxury of knowing it will all work out in the end. This year I have seen an exceptionally quick response and understanding of where we are going with this course and why it is so important to your future, not only here at THUAS, but after graduation as well.

“Be true to yourself and to your team”.
I have seen the teamwork and seen how last Wednesday in the IWF teams, the course guide was working (My goodness what a relief that was)… I saw the team leaders saying, “Okay STOP… Kill your Darlings, start over and take a new approach”.
I saw another role off filming an interview together, while yet another role was hard at work already starting to think about the video. All I can say about that is, make sure that what you are thinking about now, it still fitting to your NGOs goal.
Don’t jump quite yet to the solution, but make a “program of Requirements” first before the design…

In 2012, one of our students (who is not at IDE anymore, but was an amazing Italian blogger) posted this in her personal blog and I’d like to share this positive feeling:
– Positivity: Is there anything better than working in a friendly, relaxed, nice and funny atmosphere? Positivity is the key to success, I have no doubt about it. Truth is that in a positive environment everyone is more dedicated, active, creative and so on, and that’s because working doesn’t feel like working at all, but it feels like an opportunity to have a good time and learn something new. Positivity is the main reason why, this time, I’m not feeling like working by myself is way faster and way better than cooperation.