A reader recently emailed asking if I could recommend any storytelling conferences specifically for NGO professionals. I wrote back that I didn't know of any that fit her exact criteria, but I would look. And look I did. But most of the conferences I found (or already knew about) are geared toward journalists. I don't think that's a bad thing: the fundamentals of good storytelling are the same no matter if you work for a news organization or an NGO or a corporation. But I do see there may be a market for someone (not me) to start a conference or workshop that meets the specific needs of NGO storytellers.
Have you attended any conferences or workshops that sharpened your NGO storytelling skills? Let us all know in the comments.
Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine | Ongoing Hone your photography, video, audio and writing skills at these workshops that last anywhere from one day to one week. There's also a 30-week certificate program for people with the time and funds for more intensive study.
Social Good Summit in New York | Sept. 22-24, 2013 Every year conference organizers schedule this gathering to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly meeting. This conference encompasses not just storytelling but technology, innovation and digital media, among other topics.
The Power of Storytelling conference in Bucharest, Romania | Oct. 5, 2013 Their website says this year's focus is "how we can use storytelling to create a better society" – vague and a bit esoteric yet optimistic. I've never been to this conference but one of the speakers, journalist Jacqui Banaszynski, gave a gripping presentation on her Pulitzer-winning AIDS story to my grad school class years ago. Just hearing her speak about storytelling could make this conference worth it.
Nonprofit Communication Conference at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri | Oct. 17, 2013 Their website says: "Topics are designed for leaders, staff, volunteers, and board members of all experience levels who work in charitable groups, civic, faith-based, health care, education, and the public sector."
6th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling in Istanbul, Turkey | Nov. 6-9, 2013 This is an academic conference covering storytelling as it relates to artificial intelligence, computer games, digital art and more. This isn't a place to pick up skills and tips, but I imagine it's a great place to learn about innovative ways of telling stories with technology.
Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C. | March 13-15, 2014 This is a conference I always wished I'd attended when I lived in the U.S. because it seemed so interesting and dynamic. This gathering doesn't focus solely on storytelling but there are always sessions that specifically address storytelling at nonprofits.
The Power of Narrative conference at Boston University | April 4-6, 2014 Great sessions for anyone who wants to become a better storyteller. Next year's speakers include author Tracy Kidder, journalist Jina Moore and photographer/filmmaker Maisie Crow. I attended in 2012 and thought the sessions were too geared toward print products and not enough toward digital, but a glance at the 2014 speaker's list makes me believe this has changed.
UNC Multimedia Bootcamp in Chapel Hill, North Carolina | May 2014 All you ever wanted to learn about documentary video storytelling in one intense week of filming and editing. Instructors include Chad Stevens, formerly of multimedia powerhouse MediaStorm, and Elena Rue, who has worked as a visual storyteller for nonprofits.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference The woman whose email to me sparked this blog post said she'd been to this conference. For some reason I can't connect to the website but I wanted to include this link anyway.