The Experience Library

Trauma-Informed Interview Techniques and the Experience Library

In the world of data and metrics, the real stories that define our organizations often remain untold. 

I'd like to share with you the 'Experience Library' - an approach to systematically capture and store the diverse narratives within your organization. This concept, shared through our recent Instagram post, discusses how we collect, access, and utilize the powerful stories of our community.

The Vital Role of Storytelling

Storytelling is often the lifeblood of nonprofit work. It's not just about gathering data; it's about creating spaces for authentic, heartfelt storytelling. Let's go over the techniques to support a psychologically-safe space to collect meaningful stories we shared from the post. If you'd like to dive deeper into the techniques, listen to the Successful Nonprofits Podcast episode here. They also provide examples of how these key techniques can be used. 

While many stories shared can be on a lighter and positive note, it's important to remember that some stories can be difficult to share. Our goal is to empower individuals through their stories, not retraumatize.

The Experience Library

This "library" is more than a storage system; it’s a strategic approach to optimizing your organization’s storytelling potential. It enables you to categorize, tag, and organize narratives, making them readily available for diverse organizational needs. It's vital to handle these stories ethically, respecting privacy and obtaining consent for sharing personal narratives.

In the free download I've included a template for your use with some key fields such as who they are, what they experienced, if they've provided permission to share, key themes or emotional reactions, and potential use purposes. What you'll see is that I've included a list of definitions and an example to save you the guess work and so you can get started right away.

About the File

The file is in an Microsoft Excel format. This can be opened using any number of spreadsheet compatible software such as Numbers (Mac) or Sheets (Google). Please select File > Download to get started. 

You may already be capturing stakeholder information in a CRM (Client Relationship Management) Database or with your fundraising group (Raiser's Edge). Feel free to borrow the headings to create fields in the software you already use. 

We value supporting organizations in a cost-effective way and streamlining processes where possible. 

Final Thoughts

The Experience Library is not just a tool; it supports a more data-driven approach in the nonprofit world. By embracing this system, your organization can preserve valuable stories and enhance its ability to share them meaningfully. Download the free template today to start building your Experience Library, a repository of experiences that can inspire, educate, and drive action in your community. 

While I supported outcomes and program development for a well-known nonprofit mental health organization for nearly a decade, I am not a licensed mental health professional. For comprehensive guidance on trauma-informed care and mental health, I strongly recommend consulting with a qualified professional in this field.