Introducing Ethical Storytelling: Empowering Nonprofits to Share Impactful Stories

Jamie Elliott
Head of Technical Operations
10 Jul 2024

At Lightful, we believe that telling a compelling story is at the heart of every successful nonprofit. But beyond just capturing attention, it’s essential to tell these stories ethically, upholding the dignity and consent of the individuals whose stories are being shared. That's why we've developed our Ethical Storytelling tool, designed to help nonprofits communicate their mission while respecting and empowering the people they serve.

What is Ethical Storytelling?

Ethical storytelling involves sharing stories in a way that prioritises transparency, respect, and empowerment. It's about uplifting the voices of the people you work with and responsibly amplifying your mission. This approach ensures that the dignity and consent of individuals are always maintained, making your narrative not only impactful but also ethical.

Why We Built It

As part of our BRIDGE program (Building Resilience in Digital Growth and Engagement), participants engage in a learning module on Storytelling with Impact. This critical component of the program focuses on how organisations can share their impact ethically, inspiring support while maintaining the highest standards of storytelling.

Nonprofits often face the challenge of telling compelling stories that motivate their online audiences while ethically retelling personal stories, especially those involving vulnerable groups. From informed consent to transparency and representation, nonprofits must consider the impact of their narratives, how they portray the characters involved and the emotions they evoke.

At Lightful, our mission is to help charities become better storytellers. We aim to encourage them to view digital platforms as a way to amplify not only their voice but also the voices of the communities and individuals they serve. Alongside our BRIDGE program's learning content, we're offering support for individual storytellers with the help of AI.

What It Does

Lightful’s latest AI-powered tool provides feedback on how your digital story can be more ethically sound and purpose-driven. The tool analyses your story using our specific prompt and offers advice on making edits to ensure ethical standards are upheld. It also considers the purpose of your story, helping to ensure your intention is clear.

The tool focuses on key areas of ethical storytelling: Authenticity, Dignity, Empowerment, Transparency, Context, and Consent. It not only ensures that the stories you share adhere to these principles but it also makes them more compelling and intriguing for the reader.

The Ethical Storytelling Tool does not write or edit your story for you. Instead, it helps users build confidence in ethical storytelling over time. The tool guides users, asking questions to help them think critically about their narratives. Interestingly, having an AI tool write your story wouldn't be very ethical! Instead, the tool highlights areas you might want to reconsider, re-write, or ensure are covered in your story. You can pass your story through the tool multiple times to get better results each time, witnessing how the narrative evolves with each round of editing.

How We Built It

Building the Ethical Storytelling Tool involved more than just traditional design activities like user experience design and testing. We had to design prompts that effectively instruct the AI on how to handle user input.

Testing every possible user input wasn't feasible, so we established clear success criteria to ensure the prompts were both effective and ethical. We balanced constraining inputs and outputs to maintain control while allowing the AI to provide rich, useful outputs.

We developed prompts that guided the AI to evaluate stories based on ethical criteria, testing them against advice from human experts. This iterative process helped us refine the prompts, ensuring they produced valuable insights.

Finally, we tested the prompts with real users, documenting what worked and what didn't. This feedback was crucial in fine-tuning the tool to make it as effective as possible.


At Lightful, we're dedicated to helping nonprofits share their stories in a way that is both impactful and ethical. Our Ethical Storytelling Tool is designed to support this mission, providing guidance and feedback to ensure your narratives uphold the highest standards of ethical storytelling.

Ready to enhance your storytelling with ethical considerations? Try our Ethical Storytelling Tool today and see how it can transform your nonprofit's approach to sharing impactful stories.

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