COMMITTED to Nonprofit Storytelling

About

Helping nonprofits be better storytellers is more than what I do. It's a passion.

verticalbio

I believe sharing stories is fundamental to motivating social change. That belief grounds all of my work.

I'm Dawn Robuck (she/her/hers), and I'm a nonprofit storytelling strategist, consultant, and facilitator.

I partner with nonprofits to boost awareness, encourage active engagement, raise more support, and nurture community bonds using strategic and compelling communication strategies.

It is my belief that our world is desperate for bold counternarratives–stories of everyday heroes and heroines battling injustice and overcoming all the odds to win–to restore faith in our collective ability to do the same.

The work that nonprofits are doing is vital.

Their stories are even more so.

As a web developer, I've helped nonprofits communicate their stories online since 1997.

Over the years, I've teamed up with a wide range of nonprofits, including environmental advocates like Clean Water for North Carolina, medical charities such as The Graham Foundation and The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Ronald McDonald House, social justice initiatives like Haywood Vocational Opportunities and Carolina Prison Ministry, grassroots community projects like Grandparents On Duty, a medical outreach across borders, Small World Foundation, Inc., and several culture and arts centers.

As a passionate advocate for nonprofit success, I thrive on helping organizations achieve their goals. With a unique blend of critical and creative thinking, I bring fresh, out-of-the-box solutions to the table. My diverse background, spanning various sectors, enriches my approach, allowing me to see challenges from multiple angles.

I'm not just a consultant; I'm a facilitator, dedicated to fostering collaboration and achieving results. With extensive experience in managing digital platforms, I understand the intricacies of effective online communication and can help your nonprofit shine in the digital landscape.

Inspiration I've always loved stories. But there was a moment when the lightbulb went off–and I recognized their inherent power for change.

When I commit to something...it's never by halves.

Take my undergraduate thesis in anthropology.

Instead of researching and then writing an ethnography about a local subculture, I wanted to do what is known as 'participant ethnography'. Rather than sitting in an armchair, and analyzing from afar, I would need to live the life of the people I wanted to better understand.

The group that fascinated me was a growing number of older, and single, women who were selling all of their possessions, buying vans, and joining a burgeoning movement of self-coined 'rubber trampers' to live life full-time on the road. The ages of some of these women reached into their late 80s, but instead of settling into security and baking cookies for their grandchildren, as they might have been expected to, these women were 'going solo.'

Once I committed to the idea, I spent the first half of 2017 renovating a 1984 motorhome found on Craigslist. I knew nothing about the task at hand, but the women who had done this before me swore they knew just as little, and like them, I relied on the world of YouTube video how-tos and the generous advice from RV and van-dwelling nomad forums.

The photojournalism classes I took in preparation for my fieldwork helped me better utilize visual storytelling. This rather unflattering self-portrait has a point to make.

Mission accomplished I would travel for the next six months with my dog and cat crossing the U.S. and back.

I camped in parking lots, rest stops, and alongside rumbling semis in truck stops. I learned how to live off the grid, wire electricity and plumbing, and asking strangers in strange towns for help. I became more skilled in carbureted engines and learned to baby a vapor locking gas line–something I never knew was even a thing.

Ice coating the cab overhead, Denver, CO

Then there was this one winter night in Northern New Mexico on my way to Quartzsite, Arizona (where the rubber trampers were gathering for their annual rendezvous). For three weeks I'd suffered with a flu I couldn't shake, it was 13 degrees, and the showers the casino made available to campers was out of commission. The pipes were frozen solid. The loneliness slammed home as I could feel the icy air trying to invade the thin walls of the camper–there was no one I knew anywhere, in any direction, for at least 700 miles.

I almost gave up. I pulled out on the interstate the next morning and I had a choice. I could go back east or continue west.

I chose west. I was passionate about getting to know these true originals–and what motivated them. I would discover they were tough-as-nails, generous-to-a-fault, often fractious, and splendidly courageous. They were unlike any women I'd ever experienced, and yet, they in most ways they were also the same as women 'back home'.

Anna, in Ehrenberg, AZ

During my journey I saw first-hand how the inequities in America–poverty, the inability of the less privileged to access healthcare, and at least how one stigma–that of ageism–erode our society. And I could no longer ignore how failing political policies and narrow cultural ideologies are pushing more and more people into marginal spaces such as these.

At the same time, I was also privileged to witness how this same hardship also gave rise to powerful acts of innovation, new understandings of identity, and a resurrected understanding of abundance–despite the often daunting scarcity and uncertainty these women faced.

Critical to this story, however, I directly experienced how healing it was for so many of the women I interviewed to be able to tell their stories. Often, as we talked, they were brought to tears as they related experiences. They had realizations about themselves–and their lives–that were nothing short of transformational.

Silvianne, Quartzsite, AZ

I came to understand that the power of storytelling was not just its impact on the listener–but on the storytellers, themselves.

After presenting my thesis at the next year's Southern Sociology Society Annual Conference and winning honors for my thesis, I knew there was more I could do, and had to do, but wasn't sure what direction to go with this new understanding of the power of story. I am an entrepreneur at heart, not an academic. I love to make things happen in "the real world" but I realized there was more I needed to learn. In May of this year I completed my Masters in Applied Arts and Sciences.  It was a program that focused on issues surrounding social justice and how to apply passion to change-making.

Now it's time for me to help others to empower their constituents. To raise up their voices so they are head and tell stories not of victims, but of heroes and heroines. To tell stories not of human frailty, vice, and corruption, but of succeeding against the odds.

Just as I once committed to a journey across the country to live on the fringes, and collect those stories, I am committed to supporting nonprofits in their efforts to be better social impact storytellers.

Ehrenberg, Arizona

Let's team up to help your nonprofit share compelling stories and make an impact.

My Inspiration I've always loved stories. But there was a moment when the lightbulb went off–and I recognized their inherent power for change.

When I commit to something...it's never by halves.

Take my undergraduate thesis in anthropology.

Instead of researching and then writing an ethnography about a local subculture, I wanted to do what is known as 'participant ethnography'. Rather than sitting in an armchair, and analyzing from afar, I would need to live the life of the people I wanted to better understand.

The group that fascinated me was a growing number of older, and single, women who were selling all of their possessions, buying vans, and joining a burgeoning movement of self-coined 'rubber trampers' to live life full-time on the road. The ages of some of these women reached into their late 80s, but instead of settling into security and baking cookies for their grandchildren, as they might have been expected to, these women were 'going solo.'

Once I committed to the idea, I spent the first half of 2017 renovating a 1984 motorhome found on Craigslist. I knew nothing about the task at hand, but the women who had done this before me swore they knew just as little, and like them, I relied on the world of YouTube video how-tos and the generous advice from RV and van-dwelling nomad forums.

The photojournalism classes I took in preparation for my fieldwork helped me better utilize visual storytelling. This rather unflattering self-portrait has a point to make.

Mission accomplished I would travel for the next six months with my dog and cat crossing the U.S. and back.

I camped in parking lots, rest stops, and alongside rumbling semis in truck stops. I learned how to live off the grid, wire electricity and plumbing, and asking strangers in strange towns for help. I became more skilled in carbureted engines and learned to baby a vapor locking gas line–something I never knew was even a thing.

Ice coating the cab overhead, Denver, CO

Then there was this one winter night in Northern New Mexico on my way to Quartzsite, Arizona (where the rubber trampers were gathering for their annual rendezvous). For three weeks I'd suffered with a flu I couldn't shake, it was 13 degrees, and the showers the casino made available to campers was out of commission. The pipes were frozen solid. The loneliness slammed home as I could feel the icy air trying to invade the thin walls of the camper–there was no one I knew anywhere, in any direction, for at least 700 miles.

I almost gave up. I pulled out on the interstate the next morning and I had a choice. I could go back east or continue west.

I chose west. I was passionate about getting to know these true originals–and what motivated them. I would discover they were tough-as-nails, generous-to-a-fault, often fractious, and splendidly courageous. They were unlike any women I'd ever experienced, and yet, they in most ways they were also the same as women 'back home'.

Anna, in Ehrenberg, AZ

During my journey I saw first-hand how the inequities in America–poverty, the inability of the less privileged to access healthcare, and at least how one stigma–that of ageism–erode our society. And I could no longer ignore how failing political policies and narrow cultural ideologies are pushing more and more people into marginal spaces such as these.

At the same time, I was also privileged to witness how this same hardship also gave rise to powerful acts of innovation, new understandings of identity, and a resurrected understanding of abundance–despite the often daunting scarcity and uncertainty these women faced.

Critical to this story, however, I directly experienced how healing it was for so many of the women I interviewed to be able to tell their stories. Often, as we talked, they were brought to tears as they related experiences. They had realizations about themselves–and their lives–that were nothing short of transformational.

Silvianne, Quartzsite, AZ

I came to understand that the power of storytelling was not just its impact on the listener–but on the storytellers, themselves.

After presenting my thesis at the next year's Southern Sociology Society Annual Conference and winning honors for my thesis, I knew there was more I could do, and had to do, but wasn't sure what direction to go with this new understanding of the power of story. I am an entrepreneur at heart, not an academic. I love to make things happen in "the real world" but I realized there was more I needed to learn. In May of this year I completed my Masters in Applied Arts and Sciences.  It was a program that focused on issues surrounding social justice and how to apply passion to change-making.

Now it's time for me to help others to empower their constituents. To raise up their voices so they are head and tell stories not of victims, but of heroes and heroines. To tell stories not of human frailty, vice, and corruption, but of succeeding against the odds.

Just as I once committed to a journey across the country to live on the fringes, and collect those stories, I am committed to supporting nonprofits in their efforts to be better social impact storytellers.

Ehrenberg, Arizona

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Harness the Power of
Nonprofit Storytelling

EXCLUSIVE REPORT

Unlock the Potential of Storybanking

Discover How Story Banks:


Elevate Nonprofit Engagement 🚀

Transform Narrative Strategies 📢

Build Capacity & Strengthen Resilience 🌟

Claim Your 18-Page Research Brief Now!

By submitting your email, you consent to join our email list. You can unsubscribe anytime.

TCS doesn't spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google's Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Scroll to Top