Restorative Storytelling: Creating Positive Solutions in a Negative World

Its easy to hear the word “news” and find that our minds tend to wander to the darker areas of life, and probably not for odd reason. The news tends to define “hard-hitting” as the worst that’s happening throughout the world – death, hunger, war, natural disasters etc. We watch this type of content and, whether we notice or not, it effects us negatively. So, how can the nonprofit sector help to spread news in a more positive light?

Paul VanDeCarr, the managing director of Working Narratives, an organization that collaborates with advocates, artists, policy groups, media-makers and others to “change the story” on big social justice issues of our time, insists that nonprofits take on a journalistic approach referred to as “restorative storytelling” or “solutions journalism”.

According to VanDeCarr via an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, this method of communication focuses not mainly on what the problem is, but possible solutions to the problem and various ways people are already helping or could be helping the cause. Pulling focus away from the negative and towards what is possible not only takes stress away from our daily lives, but tends to make people more generous, a positive side-effect for nonprofits. Nonprofits can utilize this form of journalism and help spread positivity in a world where negativity seems to shine brightest.

The media tends to present the news as what happened rather than how or why it happened, or what could be done afterwards. Nonprofits should focus on “what will be” rather than “what’s been done” when communicating with the media. The scope of what’s possible is much broader than the scope of what has already been done, and people will feel more compelled to help your cause knowing that there is a future beyond it’s present.

Written by Elisabeth Tonner

About the Author: Elisabeth is an undergraduate in junior standing at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication while pursuing a certificate in fundraising and philanthropy communication. Her goals include becoming a reporter for E! News and starting a nonprofit clothing company in support of women’s rights.  


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