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Reanimating Civil Society: A lifeline guide for narrative change

by Lifeline Fund for Embattled CSOs

Published | May 2022

Building narratives


Reanimating Civil Society: A lifeline guide for narrative change provides a framework for thinking about narrative change, with examples and resources. It support ability to take control and tell the story you want to share.

Why read

This guide shows along a case study to gain practical experience and it lists other resources


This guide is meant to support activists, CSOs, and social movements who want to explore tactics and strategies to respond to smear campaigns or negative stereotypes by creating new, positive narratives to counter them. It should be used as a steppingstone to craft your own campaigns. Language matters in these campaigns as social change work is about telling stories and creating positive narratives, e.g. from fear to hope or from a problem to the solution. The key components are to 1) know your story, 2) engage in audience exploration, 3) employ audience testing, 4) experiment, 5) find allies.

The guide shows a case study about humanizing human rights in Bulgaria and mentions three main takeaways: First, you have to be strategic with your campaign targets as the audience has to align with your mission. Second, the message you share has to be humanized, told about with a sense of familiarity to the audience. Third, the sector has to be united and narrative campaigns shall be mobilized across the sector.

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