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Storytelling is a powerful way to make change. Whether you’re talking to congressional offices, local media, community groups, or a friend, stories help us make connections and demonstrate our values.

Young person speaking in front of crowd
Former Young Fellow Annie Boggess gives a presentation at FCNL’s Annual Meeting

Advocacy stories take several forms, but all share some common elements.

  • Make it personal. You’re telling the story, not someone else. Use “I” and speak from your own experience.

  • Focus on the heart, not the head. A story is more than a list of facts. Talking about how you feel about the issue helps the listener connect.

  • Include a moral or value. Think about the overall themes related to the issue you care about. Can you apply universal values like justice, compassion, or equity?

  • Make an ask. As you conclude your story, transition into your request for support (e.g. And that’s why I hope you’ll cosponsor S. 1234).

Types of Stories

Why are you advocating for this issue? You’ll tell a different story depending on the answer. You may have a single moment that opened your eyes to the issue or changed your mind. It may affect you personally now or in the past. Or you may care about it because of your faith or moral values. Here are some of the most common stories we use for advocacy.

Turning Point

Sounds like:

  • For a long time, climate change wasn’t an issue I really cared about. I had other priorities that were more important to me.

  • But then I had a baby, and I realized that all the scary effects of climate change that seem so far off will happen in his lifetime.

  • Now I see that action on climate can’t wait. I want to leave the planet in good shape for my kids and their kids.

  • Will you act to support this issue?

Moral value

Sounds like:

  • As a Quaker, I believe there is that of God in every person. That means every person has potential and the right to live with dignity.

  • For me, economic justice is about more than policy. It’s about providing people with the support they need to fulfill their potential, instead of letting God’s gifts go to waste.

  • How does your faith lead you to act on this issue?

Personal impact

Sounds like:

  • Recently, I traveled to the former East Prussian city from where my friend and her family escaped at the end of WWII. Families are living in buildings that have yet to be restored on streets that are still impassible.

  • Seeing firsthand the devastation of war even 70 years later — and hearing that nearly every family over there has traumatic war stories to tell — was my wake-up call.

  • I knew I had to come home to my own country and work for peace.

  • Will you support atrocities prevention?

Maiya Zwerling

Maiya Zwerling

Past National Organizing Manager (2013-2018)

Maiya Zwerling served as the National Organizing Manager for FCNL Advocacy Teams (2013-2018). She founded the FCNL Advocacy Teams, a network of hundreds of Quakers and friends lobbying to build congressional champions for peace and justice.