The Heart of the Story: Grameen America

I'm excited to be working on a national storytelling campaign for Grameen America.  Grameen America is the leading micro-finance institution in the US.  Today, Grameen has lent over $482 million dollars to over 75,000 women in 11 cities across the United States to start their own businesses.

This week, I joined up with Grameen’s national staff to lead a creative marketing and communications strategy session to inform the storytelling series that we are setting out to capture.

To build a strong storytelling campaign, it’s important to invest time upfront to bring stakeholders together, listen, and develop a holistic understanding of the key themes that matter most.  Once we have this base, it determines how we work in the field to surface the people who truly embody Grameen’s mission.

Here is what we did this week with Grameen America:

1.Bring Stakeholders Together.

It’s critical to bring a diverse group of people to the table, representing a broad set of perspectives and expertise.  We worked with Grameen to gather leaders from their national fundraising, operations and communications teams.

2. Active Listening

 In order to understand who Grameen is and the impact they are creating, we need to listen.  In our session with Grameen, we listened to each participant share what inspires them on a daily basis and keeps them doing what they do.  We listened to every person around the table share amazing stories of women whose lives have been transformed through the Grameen community.  Grameen staff, some who have been with the organization over eight years and and others only 3 months, all talked about the direct impact they witnessed in the lives of women and their families.  As active listeners, everyone around the table took notes.  Everyone listened for key words that got to the heart of the stories and moved us as an audience.  Listening to understand, instead of listening to respond, allowed these key words to surface.

3.Identify Themes

After active listening, the team put the words they had gathered on the wall.  These words represented the essence of the Grameen America story.  They shared who the Grameen women are, the barriers they have overcome, the dreams they have realized, the communities they have fortified and the confidence they have built.  Putting these key words up on the wall clarified for the team which themes were most important to express in the storytelling series.

We led this session with Grameen so we could have clear themes to develop in our storytelling series.  But the benefits go much deeper.

Takeaways

First, this session was great for teambuilding.  Staff members felt more connected to each other, more connected to their own motivation, and charged up to bring what they discovered back into their daily work.

Second, building this storytelling campaign in partnership with a diverse team of national staff creates broad ownership, allowing insights to spread more organically through the organization. 

Finally, this session clarified overall communications strategy.  The team discovered more powerful ways to express Grameen’s mission and impact.

Next Steps

We are now heading into the field to capture the stories of women who have thrived because Grameen gave them a real opportunity to build their own American Dream. 

Get In Touch

I'd be happy to customize similar strategies for your organization. You can contact me here.