SIF’s “Our Better World” Wins International Research Award For Inspiring Community Action Through Storytelling

Rebecca Lim, Head, Our Better World and Justine Lukas from Kantar Millward Brown presented the findings of their award-winning case study at the ESOMAR Congress in Berlin on 25th September 2018 and received the award from Phyllis Macfarlane, Treasurer, ESOMAR Foundation.

Singapore, 26 September 2018 – The Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) digital storytelling initiative, Our Better World (OBW), won the Best International Not-for-Profit Case Study Award at the inaugural “Making a Difference” Competition organised by ESOMAR Foundation.  

The ESOMAR Foundation is the charity arm of ESOMAR, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the value of market, opinion, social research and data analytics. The competition recognises the immense value that research could have on improving the effectiveness of service by non-profits.

The mission of OBW is to inspire action through storytelling, consistent with the SIF’s overall goal of bringing world communities together to do good. To do so, OBW needed to better understand the national psyche and motivations of its online audiences in Asia.  

The research helped OBW better define characteristics of a meaningful story for different communities in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. A spectrum of motivations in social contribution, ranging from a desire to preserve (e.g. uphold ethics) to a desire to change (e.g. overturn atrocities), was identified.  Such insights provided OBW with practical tips for telling stories that would provoke action.
For example, OBW found that a great motivator for the people of India was a call for social change to confront a flawed system. OBW applied this insight to shaping its story on Cactus Foundation and its efforts to break the silence on child sexual abuse in India. A month after the story broke, Cactus Foundation experienced a ten-fold increase in volunteer sign-ups (1,021). This was in sharp contrast to an equally heart-warming story told about animals (pre-research) which lacked a strong call for social change and resulted in only 105 volunteer sign-ups. 

For Singapore, it seems people are motivated to act when they can tangibly improve the lives of those left behind. OBW applied this in telling a story about a group of volunteers who transformed wedding gowns into clothing for a baby’s last rites. The story focused on the bereaved parents and how the rite of passage was made a little easier by volunteers who made baby burial clothes. After OBW told the story about Angel Gowns, the non-profit saw their volunteer sign ups increase 30 times. This contrasted with an earlier story about a hospice that focused on what volunteers did, resulting in only 24 additional sign-ups for the non-profit.

Said SIF Executive Director Jean Tan, “We’re not just interested in doing good but in doing it well. We believe that research informs policy and practice and such studies by the SIF demonstrate our commitment to constantly innovate and improve on our programmes that we might better deliver social value and impact.” She added, “After seeing OBW’s stories, six in 10 of its community took some form of action from sharing a story to supporting the cause including volunteering, donating, etc. Now that’s storytelling for social impact. We plan to do more research not only to improve OBW’s outcomes, but to share insights with others and contribute to others in the sector.”

To find out more about OBW’s 2017 Impact Report, please visit



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