Man recording voice over in front of microphone.

In the fast-paced world of corporate social impact, our stories are more than just updates—they’re powerful tools for change. By sharing our successes, lessons learned, and the personal experiences behind these initiatives, we can inspire and engage others.

I’ve spent much of my career telling stories, both as a social impact practitioner and behind the microphone recording voiceovers for companies and nonprofits looking to spread their messages. I’m passionate about stories that capture the essence of employee volunteerism and giving, highlight the journeys of grantees and community partners, and portray the human experience. What have I learned from it all? Storytelling has the power to move people and drive them to act by connecting with human emotions, making complex and often foreign ideas relatable, and motivating individuals to become part of the narrative and solution.

From a business perspective, sharing your company’s social impact efforts and the human stories behind them can also significantly impact a brand’s market presence and stakeholder sentiment. ACCP’s Making the Case for Corporate Social Impact Toolkit highlights just how important it is for companies to keep their social impact initiatives top-of-mind:

  • 90% of investors and 70% of consumers agree that companies have a responsibility to play a pivotal role in addressing social issues.
  • 71% of employees strongly expect their companies to have a societal impact and/or will not consider working for companies that don’t.
  • 76% of consumers say they would “discontinue their relationship with companies that treat the environment, employees, or the community in which they operate poorly.”

Yet, in the hustle of moving from one project to the next, storytelling and communications often become an afterthought for social impact teams. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) professionals rarely have time to pause, reflect, and report the outcomes, successes, and failures of initiatives. However, just as a voiceover artist boosts stories and messages, one of the pivotal roles of professionals in the social impact field is to amplify the voices and stories of the communities we serve – sharing the ‘why’ behind our work and encouraging further investment of time, resources, and caring to a cause. This brings to mind the old adage, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Before diving into best practices and adding more to the already cluttered social impact professional’s to-do list, it’s important to acknowledge that there are clear reasons why storytelling and communications are being forgotten or deprioritized across the field—most notably burnout and lack of resources. A 2023 survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP) found that 50% of corporate social impact professionals are experiencing burnout, and 58% feel they lack the necessary resources—including staff, budget, and expertise—to meet demand and expectations. 23% identified the need for more communications resources as critical to managing the increased workload and expectations placed on their teams.

So, considering all the resource challenges faced by practitioners in the field and limited bandwidth, how can we effectively and efficiently communicate impact and tell meaningful stories that add both business and societal value?  Here are a few tips to consider as you evaluate your own communications practices:


Paint a Picture Using Data and Anecdotes

Unleash your inner Bob Ross and paint a comprehensive picture of your social impact program’s outcomes using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data will give your audience measurable evidence of progress and success, while qualitative data gathered through interviews, testimonials, and case studies will add depth, relatability, and emotion to your narrative, capturing the experiences and voices of those directly impacted by your work. All of this will make your programs and initiatives more compelling and credible to stakeholders. In essence, prioritize showing over telling when it comes to communicating impact.

Integrating methods for capturing this data into your evaluation processes helps you build a rich pool of data from which to draw. This might look like integrating regular surveys and data collection forms into your program activities or proactively setting up interviews with program participants and partners.


Prioritize High-Impact Human Stories

Focus on identifying and sharing stories that have the most significant potential to resonate with your audience and drive engagement, which typically means stories that center around real people, authentic experiences, and data to back up the work. Prioritizing high impact stories will ensure that the time and resources you spend yield the greatest possible value for all your stakeholders.

This process requires a deep understanding of your communications’ KPIs and consistently measuring and evaluating your efforts. This will help to narrow down what stories resonate with your stakeholders, how often to share those stories, and what channels lead to the greatest conversion rate, whether that be donations, resource downloads, registrations, or any other action you aspire to have your audience take.


Empower Ambassadors and Partners as Storytellers

As highlighted in the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, people are far less trusting of companies and corporate leaders than they are of their peers. While this leads to communications challenges, it also presents an opportunity for social impact storytellers.

Leverage your network of passionate employees, grantees, and community partners as ambassadors to help socialize your impact. By providing them with the tools, training, and platforms to share their own perspectives along with curated stories and data, you amplify your message without overburdening your core team. Try creating message guides and social media toolkits or utilize tools like LinkedIn’s “My Company” feature to create ready-to-post content for your employees to amplify. This collaborative approach not only diversifies the voices and perspectives shared but also fosters a sense of ownership and community involvement across stakeholder groups.


Approach this work with empathy, curiosity, and a human perspective. Remember, stories can be powerful catalysts for change and action. Just like stepping up to the microphone to record a voiceover, it’s crucial to be thoughtful about who your audience is, what emotions you’re hoping to elicit, and the action you want to inspire. Now, it’s time to plug in your metaphorical microphone and get to work.

Stay tuned for more social impact communications and storytelling best practices.

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