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Mandy van Deven & Chiara Cattaneo: Building and resourcing narrative power

In this episode we talk to philanthropy and social change experts Mandy van Deven and Chiara Cattaneo about their work on building and resourcing narrative power within civil society.


  • What is narrative power and why is it such an important tool for CSOs?
  • Does narrative work tend to focus more on developing narratives that are relevant to cause areas in which philanthropic organisations work, or on developing narratives about the nature and role of philanthropy itself?
  • What are the most prevalent narratives about philanthropy that need to be challenged or changed?
  • What are the advantages of adopting an ecosystem approach to resourcing narrative work? How can funders support the various actors in the ecosystem to work well together?
  • What infrastructure is required to enable CSOs to make the most of narrative as a tool?
  • What particular role can foundations play in supporting narrative infrastructure?
  • To what extent does developing narrative power require a willingness not to set specific goals/ timescales or to demand attribution of inputs to outcomes? Does this potentially make it harder to resource if funders demand measurability?
  • How do you manage the tension between the urgency of issues such as climate breakdown or racial injustice and the fact that narrative work often requires patience and a willingness to work over longer timescales?

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