A couple of weeks ago, Sybil Hunt and Sherri Wood with One Warm Coat shared that they had received an honorable mention in the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Contest for their five-slide show called “Albert’s Story.”  Both Sherri and Sybil have worked with me via my coaching programs over the last couple of years, and are great about sharing with me how they are using what they’ve learned. This time, I asked Sybil to take it one step further, and to share with you the behind-the-scenes of how they captured Albert’s story.

Before reading this interview, be sure to view the show so you understand the context.

Kivi: How did you go about finding Albert’s story?

Sybil: Sherri Lewis Wood, the president of One Warm Coat, had developed numerous contacts among the Native American tribes and the community service agencies who assist them — and she simply reached out to them to ask whether they would be open to sharing information about the need for warm coats. I was able to connect with the two leaders who responded.

Kivi: How did you collect the details you needed for the story?

Sybil: I sent them a short interview form, with questions/prompts that would help them tell us more about the people and their situations. The leader of an agency that serves the Navajo in Thoreau, NM was especially helpful. It was her description of a family with five children — and how the mom had given her coat to her daughter (and then had none for herself) — that prompted Albert’s story.

Kivi: Were there any privacy concerns?

Sybil: Protecting the identity and dignity of those we serve is critically important. We believe that there are ways to tell these people’s stories and maintain their privacy. To protect the family’s true identity, I fictionalized the older teen’s name. We hope that “Albert’s Story” brings awareness to the need for warm coats, and also spotlights the generous people who became part of the solution.

Kivi: What about the photos? Are those the real kids in the story?

Sybil: The photos are a combination of free stock photos and pictures of the real coat recipients that we received from our Navajo outreach contact. Although I had photos of a mom and her children, I have no way of knowing whether they are the family we’d been told about. The “crisp” photos, generally, came from free stock photo sources. The “blurry” photos were sent by our Navajo outreach contact.

The montage of the smiling children in warm coats ARE coat recipients! (Isn’t it wonderful? They look so warm and happy!)  And the child making a snow angel IS a coat recipient — our Navajo community service agent staged that photo just for our story.

Kivi: So you were clear about how you wanted to tell the story and what you were doing?

Sybil: Definitely, and our website features downloadable photo releases for both children and adults, and I ask for them whenever I feature personal photos.

Kivi: How else have you used this story?

Sybil: There is a much fuller version of Albert’s Story, which we shared with our national partners, Burlington Coat Factory and Good Morning America, some months ago. This 5-slide version was easy to produce because of that.

Kivi: Thanks Sybil, for sharing the how-to’s and for doing so well in the competition!

It’s your turn! Can you share the behind-the-scenes details of a story you are using in marketing or fundraising? Share in the comments, or email me.

P.S. We have three storytelling webinars this month:

March 10: Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Be Telling

March 24: Telling Powerful Stories about Everyday People

March 30: Storytelling for Fundraisers

I’m also offering storytelling consultations.

Published On: March 7, 2011|Categories: Nonprofit Writing, Storytelling|

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