Success Story guidelines for Partner Organizations

Dear Partners
It is encouraging to see the good work of your organizations toward Mobilization for Women Voter
Registration and Participation in Electoral Processes in Pakistan. We at UNDP Trust for Democratic
Education and Accountability (TDEA) Women NICs and Voter Registration Campaign (WNVRC) would
like you to actively focus on documenting your successes by identifying and developing success stories
that capture the impact of your work at the community level. Through this e mail, we are sharing a step
by step process for you to identify success stories and showcase the impact of your work.
There are 3 sections of this e mail:
5 steps to identify and develop success stories;
6-step guide to success story format; and
7 language tips for success stories.
5 Steps to Identify and Develop Success Stories
Identify Beneficiaries
The identification of the right kind of beneficiaries around whom your
success story would revolve is of foremost importance. Ideally, the
selected beneficiaries should be ones who best reflect the change your
project has brought about in the community. Anyone, from a child to
an elderly woman could be selected as a beneficiary; however, the
selected person should be able to throw light on how your project has
benefitted him/her and the community at large. At the initial stage,
identify at least three beneficiaries.
If the success story pertains to a larger change brought about as a
result of your project interventions, instead of three beneficiaries,
identify a civil society representative, government official and
beneficiary/project staff who can effectively highlight your contribution
to the change
Develop Beneficiary
Once you have selected the beneficiaries, develop their brief profiles
that include all the relevant details about them:
 Age
 Location (village/city, tehsil/taluka, district, province)
 Education
 Marital status and number of children (if any)
 Profession and monthly income
 Professional interests
 Project activities attended
 How UNDP – TDEA supported project/activity benefited
 Contact details
Share Beneficiary
Profiles with TDEA
Share the profiles of the selected beneficiaries with the UNDP – TDEA
team to seek their opinion. The team may directly contact the
beneficiaries to gauge their potential and select one of them as the
person around whom the success story would revolve.
Conduct Background
One of the basic purposes of developing a success story is to show how
your project interventions have contributed to solving a problem.
Numbers come in handy in this connection: to show how acute a
problem was, you need to give relevant figures. For example, to show
how women were barred from casting their vote before project
interventions, give the number of polling stations in the district where
female voter turnout was abysmally low in the previous elections.
Capture Impact
A success story is not supposed to be a summary of your project
activities such as a training workshop or seminar, or of accomplishment
of your organization’s mid-level goals. It should, instead, be a story of
the lives transformed due to your project interventions.
6-Step Guide to Success Story Format
Paragraph No.
The success story should ideally start with a one-sentence summary of the
success and then proceed to cover the elements as described below.
Description of how things were before UNDP - TDEA intervention: how
something was bad or not good enough (this will also show why the project
works on this issue). Quantitative data are hugely useful here. Give specific
description of the person or place/community featured in the story: age,
number of residents, profession, geographic location…
A paragraph about the UNDP – TDEA supported intervention: what did the
project do to change the situation? Be specific: if a training, explain what it
taught and to whom? If a grant – give $ amount and tell what it was used for, if
other help – name what specifically was done.
The “after intervention” paragraph: how the person/group of people/
organization/sector has improved, are doing things better, etc. Quantitative
data – kilometers, tones, number of people, money – is hugely welcome.
After the above parts are ready, the story should have 2-3 quotations from the
person featured in the story (preferably beneficiary), especially quotations
supporting items 2/3 and 5 above.
A photo of the person featured in the story – positive, action photos are the best. Must be minimum 500
Kb in jpeg format, high resolution. Faces must be visible.
7 Language Tips for Success Stories
Avoid expletives
Do not start a sentence with expletives such as ‘It is’ and ‘This
is’. Starting a sentence with a word that does not evoke an
image in mind puts off the reader. Whenever you try to re-write
a sentence starting with ‘It is’ or ‘This is’ using another
construction, it would invariably improve. If nothing else, you
would save at least three words and your subject would come
in the beginning of the sentence.
Avoid intensifiers
Never use intensifiers such as ‘very’, ‘quite’ or ‘pretty’. These
words do not enhance the effect or emphasize a point as we
may wrongly think. ‘Positive’ and ‘very positive’ mean the
same, as do ‘interesting’ and ‘quite interesting’ and
‘remarkable’ and ‘pretty remarkable’.
Use active voice
Always prefer active voice unless the object in a sentence is
more important that the subject.
Use uniform style sheet
More often than not, we do not stick to a single style sheet and
use a mixture of American and British style sheets. Ideally, this
should be avoided and a single style sheet should be used
throughout a success story.
Avoid overuse of adjectives
Too much of adjectives – such as ‘(a) remarkable (change)’, ‘(a)
dismal (situation)’ or ‘(an) excellent (initiative)’ – should be
avoided at all cost. Using adjectives is like dictating readers
instead of telling the story through evoking suitable images. For
example, if the situation regarding education in a particular
village or union council is distressing, the same should be
expressed through some relevant detail – such as low literacy
rate among girls or high dropout rate at the primary level –
instead of stating the obvious.
Used prefixes and suffixes
Prefixes and suffixes should be sparingly used since they help
you say the same thing in fewer words. They also have a more
direct effect on the readers. For example, ‘when the schools
opened (again) after the flood…’ to ‘when the schools
(re)opened after the flood…
Avoid gender-sensitive
language and words
Avoid using words like ‘mankind’, ‘spokesman’, ‘chairman’,
‘fisherman’ or ‘manpower’; instead use ‘humankind’,
‘spokesperson’, ‘chairperson’, ‘fisher folk’ and ‘workforce’,
We hope you find this e mail helpful. For your ease, we are also attaching 3 supplementary readings for
you to further help you in identifying and developing success stories.
We encourage you to proactively identify and share success story ideas with us. We will help you in
developing these success stories.
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