On Monday night, I sat in bed, obsessively updating my Instagram feed.
Sure, I can get lost in the scroll as much as the next person. But on this particular evening, I was waiting for a very specific update.
All week long, I had watched Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit), a podcaster and best-in-the-biz storyteller, travel around rural Alaska with a tiny nonprofit called Brooklyn to Alaska. I met the young men training to be adventure guides. I watched them climb ice mountains. I saw the work, I saw the impact, and I saw the needs.
Put simply, I was invested.
Because of an Instagram story.
For days, I was brought along for the ride — never being asked for anything. I got to experience a very cool (very impressive) organization that I may have never come across on my own. I learned who they were, what they were about, and what they wanted to do next. And after days of moment-by-moment updates, I learned about their vision for a new bunkhouse — a property that would cost $180,000 to build.
By that point, I was not only willing to give, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to give.
When Carlos finally linked the donation form, I immediately grabbed my credit card.
This, my friends, is the power of effective storytelling.
I was an eager and enthusiastic donor because I had first heard, loved, and cared about the story. And I wasn’t the only one.
On Monday night, I sat there scrolling, waiting to see if we (yes, I was now part of a “we” — because stories build communities, too!) had given enough to build the bunkhouse. I had to know the last chapter of the story!
Finally, a notification.
In 24 hours, Carlos raised $255,000 for Brooklyn to Alaska. His followers paid for the bunkhouse and then some. Telling a powerful story changed the entire trajectory of this small organization. (You can check out the whole thing saved in Carlos’s highlights. The week-long story is nearly two hours of content!)
I couldn’t stop smiling — and I couldn’t stop thinking about just how transformative a well-told story can be. It’s why we do what we do here at Swell+Good: help small nonprofits, businesses, and organizations define, build, and share their own stories. Because we, like Carlos, know that a story can change everything.
Want to dive into your own story? Comment on this post! We’d love to help you think through it — and help you bring your incredible story to life!