How to Write Effective Success Story for Project Impact, Accountability and Continuing Support
Category : Project Management
Every project is intended to make an impact on the clients or beneficiaries. This accentuates the fact that a project’s success is measured by the satisfaction derived from its deliverables. This satisfaction can only be expressed by those who benefitted. On the order hand, funders consider the success of the project a very important component which enables them to make decisions on budgeting and determine lines of action.
So, what makes a good success story? How can it be written? What should be included and excluded? Are there guidelines? What distinguishes it from other stories? This and many other questions are what this article aims to address. As noted earlier, it is very important and needful to have a ‘commanding’ success story that can compel funders to keep supporting a project or increase their target.
What is a Success Story?
Solomon was left out school because his parents, living at Abe Igi, could not support his education again. They came in contact with our project staff, in February 2014, who assessed and enrolled him for support and service provision. Discovering that sustainability was the key, his mother was empowered to set up confectionery business late December of the same year. The business thrived and in mid-2015, when the family was visited by a volunteer, it was discovered that she could now support the family. She was also able to reenrol her son in school. She was happy for this, just like her son. According to her, ‘I came into this project not knowing how my family was going to survive again. Things were bad. But now I can say I’m buoyant to support my family. Thanks to LIWOM’. The son on the other hand stated; ‘I thought my hope of being an educated person had come to an end when daddy told me he could pay my fees again. When mom told me to get ready for school some months later, I couldn’t imagine the happiness that sprang within me. God will bless LIWOM for granting me another opportunity’.
The above is an example of a success story. A success story is a write-up that tells the impact of a project on the beneficiary – how it has improved the lives of those concerned.
Why do you need to write a Success Story?
Every major project will always end up with the requirement to show the impact of the project. This is a strong tool to promote the work rate, effectiveness and goals accomplishment by the CSO concerned. Many might consider it useless writing this, believing that previous reports sent are enough to prove the intervention carried out. That’s right. Reports have some of these success stories, but they do not draw emphasis as expected. You will, therefore, need to write a success story because of the following:
- You need to show the value of the money, to funders and stakeholders, invested in a program. Every funder will love to see the ROI to be sure that money isn’t being wasted.
- It portrays an organisation or implementer as worthy of accountability. In this age, accountability is a rare gem. Since a success story supplies evidence of the nature of the intervention, it can command trust from stakeholders.
- It is a way of communicating what has been achieved and the role played. A project is a total flop without achievement. Achievement is recorded when the project changes live(s). So, a success story portrays, not only but also, the level of achievement.
- It helps others to learn and apply successful intervention approaches to their projects. Success stories we create and make accessible to others can be of great help to them. They can study how we achieved the impact and get inspired to follow the track.
- A success story, when well written, can act as an ambassador in places where you are not available to speak. Most success stories are communicated as textual documents via emails and published on websites. For sure, you will not be there when people are engaging with these stories. So, these stories will explain what you have done and who benefitted from it.
Let your Story Speak for you!
Key Elements of a Success Story
Irrespective of the length and presentation , every success story must possess the following key elements to make it complete. Without one of these elements, the story is not a success. So, in writing your success story, consider these key elements.
- Beneficiary’s Information
- Contact Details of the Beneficiary
- Type and nature of intervention
- Beneficiary’s view of the intervention
- Evidence (MOVs)
Quality of a Good Succes Story
- Clear and easy to understand
A success story must be written in a simple and clear language that makes it easier for people to understand. Avoiding complex sentences and bogus expressions will be deemed excellent. When people are unable to grasp the meaning of a story, they will give different meanings to it.
- Free of jargons and irrelevant words
This is not the customary folktale you listen to under the shades of a tree and told by a grandparent. It is something should be direct and hits the nail on the head. Therefore, jargons are not welcomed.
Make it short and meaningful. At most, a one-page success story should exceed 500 words. Except where it is necessary to extend beyond that. The fact is that nobody will want to spend time in reading the story. Make it as concise as possible
- Avoid Acronyms
Acronyms are damned good when trying to shorten words and increasing speed, but they can also be misleading. The acronyms of a particular project might be different from what those that come in contact with the story know. Hence, as much as possible, acronyms should be avoided.
Qualities of a Success Story
A success story must be easy to understand and should drive the intended message without the need to interpret its meaning. It should a story void of ambiguity. When readers are unable to pick out the meaning, they will give meaning to it. That can drive wrong information to them.
It must be concise
Make it short as much as possible. A one-page success story should not exceed 500 words except when it is a must to exceed this. Long stories are boring and tiresome to read. So, keep it short and within the context of the story.
Void of Acronyms
Though acronyms are a good way shortening what we write, they can be misleading. For instance, the acronym CAC could stand for Christ Apostolic Church and Corporate Affairs Commission. Since a success story does include definition of terms and acronyms, avoid using them.
Never Compromise the Quality - It speaks volume
Project Intervention and Impact
There several proposed formats for writing an effective success story. Whatever format you use is based on the choice you’ve made. However, all these formats have these key writing blogs.
- The heading or title of the story should, at first sight, capture the readers attention. This will initiate the desire to read the story.
- It should contain action verbs that will drive an impact-based message.
The statement of the problem should:
- provide an emotional ‘hook’.
- State specific information like cost, training and health burdens.
- Avoid passive language, grammatical errors and wordiness
- State specific and type of intervention
- Place where intervention took place
- How the intervention was carried out – strategy.
The impact statement should clearly spell out the outcome of the intervention provided by comparing the state of the beneficiary before intervention with after intervention. Also, the beneficiary’s view should be captured.
Capturing the intervention process is the best way to provide evidence of the intervention. Video, audio and still images can be captured, though, for cost effectiveness, still images are mostly preferred. Capture the before and after alongside the time intervention was done.
Answering these questions will help
- Who is the individual or group the intervention serves?
- What change has come into this beneficiary’s life because of the intervention?
- When (period) did the change occur?
- Where did this occur?
- How did the intervention provided through the program cause the change?
- Why does the recipient feel that his/her life is better or has changed? A direct quote from the beneficiary will be of great impact.