What is a Significant Success Story?

A success story shows an organization or individual making a difference in people’s lives. It describes a positive change and shows how that change benefits the people of a given area of intervention.

A great success story applies the use of evidence to show the value of our interventions in terms measurable changes in knowledge, skills, motivation, behavior, decision making, practices, policies, social action, social, economic and environmental conditions that derive from a cause-and-effect relationship.

You can write a success story about an entire project, program or part of a program (i.e. activity) that is particularly noteworthy and significant in terms of results and its impacts. It may be about an innovation, emergency response or outstanding effort. Whatever you choose to write about, your story should show your intervention making a difference in targeted areas.

Why is it important for an Organization, Group or Individual to write success stories? 
• To show accountability for provided funds
• To verify that your intervention or activity is using resources to make a positive difference in people’s lives
• To share successes so individuals in and out of organization can learn from your results
• To spread the word about your organization as a valuable resource
• To show that numbers alone don’t tell the whole story of organization
• To reflect and learn from our work
• To practice good scholarship
• To disseminate information & knowledge

How is success stories used? 
]• To assess team progress in relation to plans (performance reviews ).
• To share information among partners and generate interest among potential partners
• To help internal staff and partners better understand organization’s work and value
• For reporting purposes
• To post on program-area web sites
• As a source of news stories for local media
• To document activities and accomplishments of staff, volunteers and targeted beneficiaries
• As input for nominating individuals for awards and presentations

We can also use Success Stories in a variety of ways, including:
• As part of your tenure review documentation
• In organization’s annual reports and monthly reports to stakeholders
• In communications with local officials / partners 
• To share the value of organization with partners and generate interest among potential partners
• To celebrate achievements with colleagues and stakeholders
• To keep up with colleagues’ accomplishments around a wider audiences 
• In internal communications

What makes a good success story? 
A good success story should: 
• Describes results that are valued by clients 
• Contains compelling, significant facts 
• Catches your attention 
• Tells who benefits 
• Answers: “So what?” 
• Spells out your organization’s role in achieving results 
• Is easy to read and understand 
• Identifies key partners, funders and beneficiaries 

When do you submit success stories? 
• When you have something significant to report and evaluation data to back it up
• When you are proud of a program or initiative
• On an ongoing basis – don’t wait until the end of the year

Key Points for writing Success Stories
It’s one thing to have a good story to tell. It’s another to write it so that people will want to read it. Use the following tips and many resources on the Internet for help in writing your success stories.

Situation
a) Clearly describes an important issue or concern – “why we should care”?
b) Shows that issue or need is appropriate for your organization’s response
c) Includes data demonstrating need

Response (inputs and Activities) 
a) Spells out your organization’s role/contribution 
b) Identifies participants: numbers and demographics of individuals, businesses, and/or communities that were reached 
c) Identifies partnerships, if applicable
d) Identifies funding sources, if applicable

Results (outputs, outcomes-impact)
a) Tells who benefited and how
b) Uses numeric and/or narrative data to describe important outcomes 
c) Answers “So what?” Makes value clear to reader
 d) Links story to research, if appropriate
 e) States future plans based on results

For multi-year project/program, a success story seeks to;
a) Shows important progress for the reporting period
b) Links work across years

Evidence (evaluation) 
A good story should be evaluated and as such, should; a) Describes data collection method
b) Include sample (number and how selected)
c) Provide response rate post intervention/activity
d) Tell when data were collected

Writing Style (Dos and Don'ts)
A good writing style determines the interest of the reader and should; a) Always use Active voice
b) Always Read like a story
c) Always be Compelling and with significant facts
d) Have No jargon or abbreviations
e) Be Concise, and use complete sentences

f) Use real Names/titles, not “this agent”, “this person”,” this staff”, “those people”

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