Our Better World has a strong focus on storytelling – as do we! What about stories helps you fulfil your company’s vision best?
Stories are integral to what we do at Our Better World – the digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation. Terry Pratchett once said “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” We believe that stories have the power to help us connect through shared human experiences, but also to shape who we become. Our Better World shares meaningful stories that inspire people to do good.
I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate, connect, learn, encourage and inspire. I have post-its to help me remember things (the colour helps!), notebooks to write things down, a phone to take photos, namecards to connect with people, and sunglasses and water to keep well in Singapore weather. I’m always ready for a good, meaningful conversation!
What is the most memorable campaign you’ve run? Why?
Jaya was a good-hearted busy person who wanted to do good. She read a story of ours that covered the ‘Right To Learn’ project, whose call to action was to sign up to read to a child through Skype. Since it was accessible and convenient, she took the first step – she signed up to read on Saturday mornings to two girls. Within a year, Krisha – one of the girls who earlier couldn’t read – was able to speak confidently in English! What’s more, she had taught her mum English too! Realising the impact that she had made was a wake up call to Jaya who was further inspired to do more. The founder of Right To Learn was also encouraged to see how sharing stories online helped open up a new segment of volunteers. It’s this ripple effect that keeps the team going and reinforces the power of a simple act of sharing on digital media.
How do you think the digital space is altering people’s propensity to do good? We see the proliferation of pages like Humans of New York, for example, that seek to unearth stories about human beings who sometimes are in need of help, but how do you get people to translate the likes and comments to tangible action? Is this something your team grapples with?
Telling stories is not enough for us. We want our stories to translate into action. Online media has changed the way we live. The content that is proliferated online is such a big part of our lives. But really, what percentage of that content actually inspires us? Our Better World started out wanting to play a role to trigger more stories of good online. We want to show people that you don’t have to take a year off to volunteer in order to make a difference. Even with our daily lifestyles, there is so much that can be done in small ways. We also wanted to focus on Asian stories of good which makes them more relevant to our audience.
What is the recipe to a compelling story? What elements elevate stories from being just good content to good content that moves people?
Big inspiration, small information, simple action. We focus on authentically telling a story that celebrates human spirit, is relatable and engaging. No sensationalisation. Our stories usually chronicle the journey of an everyday person doing remarkable things. They’re hopeful and the human element really draws people in. When people read stories, they aren’t looking to be inundated with information. We leave out the agendas, keep information minimal, and focus on one simple thing they could do at the end.
What’s the secret to your optimism?
My faith. Even in the darkest of situations, I choose to believe in the goodness of human spirit, that there is always hope.
And lastly, tell us about #chasingthegood
At Our Better World, we produce stories of good in collaboration with networks of content producers, and distribution networks. However, we wanted to get more people involved, and to build a global community that proliferates stories that inspire good. We can do so much with our phones now, and everyone is a content creator in their own right. It needs to be a two-way street – by using the hashtag, we’re inviting everybody to share moments of good, or responses to these moments. We believe this is a small way of activating a big movement to be and do good in the world.