Have you ever been curious about why we host Storytelling Trips? What the goals are?
We’d love to take a few minutes to explain our strategy behind our organizational investment into quality storytelling from the front lines of the fight for freedom. Check out some of the answers to common questions below:
Why invest in Storytelling Trips?
The Communications Team at The Exodus Road values “bringing people to the front lines.” And while it’s impractical to physically bring all our supporters to see the work internationally first hand, we invest in bringing good communicators to the field (our Storytellers) and equip them to share their experiences with a broader audience. We believe this strategy is important and effective as it allows the public to engage with a wider variety of people who are experiencing the the realities of human trafficking and our work in fresh ways.
Essentially, we bring the Storytellers to the front line physically and then bring a much wider audience to the front lines through the stories they share.
We believe this is beneficial both for our current supporters, and it also plays a key role in raising general awareness for the issue of human trafficking. While the primary focus of The Exodus Road lies in targeted interventions (rescues from slavery with police), we also have a value of bringing education to the general public about the issue, and these trips are a large component of that annual effort.
Are the Storytellers going to “Save Kids from Slavery?”
No, not directly. They won’t be breaking in brothel doors. It takes years of work and partnerships with police to effectively do this work. The Storytellers come to 1) LEARN about human trafficking and our work and then to 2) COMMUNICATE that to their own networks. They are good communicators; it’s why they were invited to see the work first hand, and they understand that they are here in more of an observation role. However, through their effective storytelling, the goal would be that more people join the work and ultimately do rescue more from slavery.
How is the content of what the Storytellers share determined?
Transparency is a key value of The Exodus Road. When we invite people (especially those with large social media influence) to the front lines, we are taking huge steps towards accountability and transparency. We ask that if any Storyteller writes anything critical of our work, we have the opportunity to see it and honestly address their concerns before they post. Beyond that, they are free to write of their experiences how they best feel communicates honestly with their audiences.
We do also have a strict set of safety protocols and communication values we communicate prior to the trip, which the Storytellers must adhere to. These standards involve details like what locations, case file information, names of operatives, operational details, etc. they can share online and which must be kept secure for the safety of our teams or the dignity of survivors or children they meet.
Group photo of the Storytelling Team of April, 2016
Why is fundraising mentioned?
We always have a fundraising campaign tied to each Storytelling Trip because so many people want to give and get involved when they hear about our work on the front lines. Storytellers are not required to participate. They are invited to do so as they wish. Donations from Storyteller-connected campaigns do not directly go towards the costs of the trip itself. As an organization, we have independent financial audits done every year which verify our designated spending, and our Storytellers typically raise funds for programs (like our Search & Rescue Program). The funding to host the trip comes from different budgets including our Awareness Program, Marketing, and Advancement funds.
How are Storytellers selected?
We look at a variety of factors when inviting individuals to the field on a trip with us. Many of them we have relationships with (online or in real life) already, and others we are getting to know. We consider things like: scope of online influence, quality of writing/storytelling, online personality, natural networking connections with our organization and individual character to name a few. We also seek to have a widely diverse group of storytellers to more effectively connect with a broader audience.
Why do you use video as a storytelling component?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, we feel a video must be worth a million. As a way to innovate, we invest in multimedia and video elements of Storytelling Trips as a means to create meaningful connections with viewers and supporters. We think strong video brings people to the front lines is fresh and powerful ways. See an example here: A Journey to the Front Lines of Human Trafficking.
What can I do to help?
Since these Storytelling Trips are primarily online, you can use the content coming from the trip to share with your own online networks. This is hugely beneficial to us as it increases the reach these trips have. Share, tweet, follow. Telling front line stories is hard work. It takes emotional and physical sacrifice for our Storytellers, and it would be encouraging if they felt wildly supported in their efforts.
Can I read more from past Storytelling Trips?
Yes! Please do: