Disruption for Social Good

with Renee Kaplan

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The Story

Harnessing the power of story for social change

Renee Kaplan

Chief Strategist, Change Maker, Impact Investment Expert

Lessons Learned

Societies start with stories. Stories are behind our biggest problems and our biggest successes.

You can have all the data in the world, but it is the story that will move people to action.

Do not underestimate the power of a story with evidence.


Lesson: Disruption for Social Good with Renee Kaplan

Step #9 The Story: Harnessing the power of story for social change

Skoll Foundation was started by Jeff Skoll, who loved to read. He wanted to be a journalist because he cared about the world and he believed that story was the way to reach people to communicate about these big problems, but also about hope and about resilience and about opportunity. So our DNA is around story in that way.

But I think, for me, it all starts with story, whether it's a parent telling their child about the culture they live in, or educating them about their family and where they come from and then beyond that, what stories the child takes on as their identity and where they see themselves in the world, and how see their opportunities or their potential challenges.

For us, you can have all the data in the world. While it's compelling and important and a fundamental requirement for any kind of change, often--and we've seen, I'd say, most of the time--it's one story that moves you to act, that makes the difference, whether you're watching a move, whether you're hearing someone speak that you connect with, whether you really begin to understand the problem through someone's eyes, like a child or a person you relate with. For us, you just can't underestimate that--the value of storytelling with evidence, with the right data that's not all about the story in absence of the compelling information that helps you know that you can really act and make a difference.

For us, story kind of permeates everything we do. It starts with how the entrepreneurs tell us their story, how we collect the data and the impact and understand together what this new status quo or equilibrium looks like, so our vision of partnership working toward a better future.

And along the way, how do we get others to embark with us on that journey? We don't say pitch. We don't say marketing plan. It's about the story. What is the story? What's the story that the data is telling us? What is the story of the constituents or the people on the ground that are living in that situation? What's the story that is compelling for the policymakers or the corporations to really get them engaged and partner with us?

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