Photo: © iStock/Sjoerd van der Wal

Road-testing the Narrative Project

New Venture Fund

How can we use different language and messages to change the public conversation on development?

The Narrative Project is a research and communications effort that used research and message testing to develop a set of insights about how to create a broader base of public support for global issues.

In 2015, the New Venture Fund worked with 10 organisations to road-test the Narrative Project approach. The goal was to learn from organisations' experiences of integrating the Narrative Project messaging approach into their communications work across different goals, contexts, and audiences.

Key lessons

Three key lessons emerged from the evaluation of the 10 projects, which offer insights for other organisations considering adopting the Narrative Project approach.

1. Worthwhile but hard

The pilots showed that people and organisations found it feasible to adopt the themes and language of the Narrative Project approach into their communications practice, but the challenge of doing it well, and consistently, was significant.

2. Progress and challenges

Adopting Narrative Project language doesn't mean being blindly positive in our communications about health and development. Sharing the challenges that people in developing countries face is still important.

3. Importance of storytelling

The Narrative Project approach can tempt users into an abstract description of health and development, but this can undercut the emotional aspects of communication and storytelling that lead to audience engagement.

Read the executive summary of the evaluation, or download the full report below. Find out more about the Narrative Project on our public support page.