What is Nonprofit GIS StoryMapping?

Updated: Oct 12

How can your organization "level up" in the storytelling game? Use GIS StoryMapping.



Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author

Since the beginning of time, stories have been told, passed down from generation to generation, and cataloged in our memory for us to pass along for future generations to come. Like me, I am sure you have priceless memories of someone telling you a story. You remember them, how they told the story, their gestures, voice changes, your emotional reaction. We, as humans, love stories.


Simply, storytelling is a way to convey facts, information, history, and experience from the teller and the listener.


Nonprofit storytelling is more catered around the mission, goals, values, and people involved with the organization. Nonprofit storytelling allows your audience to be encaptured by the emotional reaction from the stories of the organization.


There is no doubt that storytelling is powerful. Stories can motivate others to take action by the emotional response embedded in the story. Stories influence decision making. Stories can mold perceptions.



Why Should Your Organization Include Storytelling in Marketing Efforts?


Nonprofit organizations can utilize storytelling for many different reasons. Maybe your organization is looking to attract more donors and volunteers or your organization to legitimize your organization's "street cred".


Whatever your organization's goals are, it has the capabilities to make a compelling "call to action."


The Effects of Storytelling


Because stories are so powerful, it is important to note that not all stories are equal. As some stories are meant to be good, some are meant to destroy and be harmful, whether it's intentional or not.


As a nonprofit consultant and nonprofit enthusiast, I believe it's important that before you begin to build or recreate your organization's StoryMap, it's important to know the effects of storytelling.


I am a huge fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and you will see me quote her or refer this TED talk quite often. In her TED Talk, "Dangers of a Single Story", Adichie explains the dangers of accepting the "single-sided" story and how you can "flip the narrative" in your own life. What I take most from this TED Talk is the


Being from Kentucky, you hear a lot about "Hillbilly culture" in the Eastern part of the state. For decades, this culture has been hit hard with negative stories of poverty, poor education, and of course coal mining. Instead of continuing those negative stories, the communities of Leverett, Massachusetts and Letcher County, Kentucky decided to sit down, exchange stories, and understand what it was really like to be from both communities. The communities formed Hands Across the Hills. Take a look at this community alliance.



Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty.


What is GIS Story Mapping?


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is nothing new. The typical person has a basic idea of what GIS capabilities are and how they can be used. However, the trend to use GIS to tell stories is somewhat new to the public eye.


ArcGIS StoryMaps is the incorporation of maps and storytelling. I like to think of it as the "future of storytelling". Having a GIS StoryMap is more interactive and visually pleasing than just a video or a story one can read. You can virtually do almost anything with an #ArcGisStoryMap





Here is the GIS StoryMap I created (before the pandemic occurred) about serving in the Peace Corps. Currently, the Peace Corps is not serving in any country to protect the safety of Peace Corps Volunteers.


Peace Corps, Working for the World.



#ArcGISStoryMapping is not just for nonprofits. It can help strengthen any "story" one is attempting to convey. Here you can explore the different "genres' of StoryMapping.


Below are a few examples from the ArcGIS StoryMap Causes and Advocacy I think you might enjoy!


Beyond drought: adding life to the numbers

Misunderstanding + misinformation= mistrust


Measuring Success

Side note: Check out the interactive map!

ArcGIS also has some great tips on creating and planning stories here.


GIS StoryMapping is for everyone and every organization! A compelling message to your audience is exactly what your organization needs to get the "call to action" you want.


Why not have the "leg up" on your organization's story?


If your organization is interested in creating a #StoryMap, I would love to assist your organization in the process!


Let's talk about StoryMapping by contacting me!

About Kaycee

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