This is a story we've been waiting for nearly two years to tell.
Since early 2010 we’ve been knee-deep in an experiment that is transforming the way we understand social change. Now we couldn't be more excited; we finally get to share it all with you.
We've been busy training hundreds of volunteers in East Africa to ask their neighbors a simple question: "Tell us about a time when a person or an organization tried to change something in your community."
As a result, we’ve amassed a collection of more than 18,000 stories told by more than 5,000 people. Stories like this one, for example
"Before i [k]new that i was affected by HIV/AIDS it was in my thinking that i was bewitched [until i was] encouraged to go and check my life status. I found myself affected by the killer disease, quickly i started taking medicine from TASO/the AIDS support organisation[.] i do thank the madam who advised and lead [me] to TASO where i got help. Its now more than six years and am in good situation. So i also request others to go and check up."
So you're probably thinking, "Wow, that's interesting and all, but why all the stories?"
We're calling this experiment the Storytelling Project
. Our Storytelling Project is about collecting community feedback on the ground where many of our projects work. It's about addressing a key problem in international development: that the people working for social change don't have effective feedback loops – they don’t have ways to learn and assess their performance in real time.
We’ve been working with the Rockefeller Foundation to develop a cost-effective model for turning hand-written stories into data on a massive scale. We like to think of it as a kind of "Yelp" for international development.
These large data sets of stories are helping us reveal patterns about the deeper causes of complex social problems. They’re also helping us find out what community members themselves identify as the most effective solutions for the challenges they face.
The big news is that TODAY we’re sharing all of these stories on our website so that anyone can explore them. Check out www.globalgiving.org/stories
and find out what people are talking about.
We invite you to click on over to the storytelling page
and read through some of the randomly-selected stories that you find. Play around with the search function; test your own hypothesis about an issue that you think matters most. We’ve been fascinated by the stories we’ve read, and we think you will be too.
Just don’t blame us when your boss finds out find that you’ve become addicted to reading these stories during working hours.
Thanks for believing with us that everyone should have a voice when it comes to building better communities.
Alison Carlman and the GlobalGiving Team
p.s. If you're a data geek like some of us, you may enjoy learning how we collected and analyzed more than 18,000 stories
p.p.s. If you believe in this project and want to see it grow, you can make a donation to support the Storytelling Project