by Janet Ervin

I’ve always been a reader – from the time I was old enough to sound out words, I was walking around with a book in front of my face. I grew up just north of here, in Statesville, where my family had the Charlotte Observer delivered every day. I learned to appreciate journalism after school each afternoon as I ate Pop-Tarts (brown sugar!) and combed through the newspaper pages, paying special attention to the comics or stories that caught my eye.

Reading Tommy Tomlinson’s columns was one of my first engagements with ‘real’ journalism. Even as a middle school kid, I loved his ability to make people feel so real, whether he was writing about sports or musicians or pancake houses or funeral directors. I couldn’t identify it at the time, but it was the empathy and detail he employed that made me care – even at the age of twelve – about the lives of people who were absolutely nothing like me.

On this Friday’s What’s Next broadcast, and in several blogs to come, we’re going to talk about stories and the way we tell them. I believe storytelling is the single most powerful tool in our social good arsenal, and in a content-driven culture this is more important than ever. Email, websites, social media, donor events, press releases – most nonprofit professionals are under increasing pressure to keep compelling story at the forefront of their work.

When we write these stories well, we inspire empathy, build interest and help people understand why our mission matters. We help people understand the lives of people who are very different from what they know. But even with the best of intentions, the writer often controls the narrative – so how do we craft a narrative that honors our constituents and evokes empathy rather than pity? How do we keep equity, transparency and respect at the forefront of our writing?

Join us this Friday as we talk Storytelling With Integrity with Tommy Tomlinson, Ju-Don Marshall and Alicia Bell. These talented veteran journalists will give us their best tips on how they choose which stories to share, how to ask better questions and more. Register here.