Impactful Narratives and Storytelling: exploring essential audiences, narratives and channels for Social R&D communications - ON-168

Preferred Disciplines: Social Sciences (Masters, PhD or Post-Doc)
Company: The McConnell Foundation
Project Length: 4-6 months (1 unit)
Desired start date: October 2018
Location: Ottawa, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: None

About the Company: 

Incubated by The McConnell Foundation, the Social R&D Fellowship, is a multi-year exploration into the conditions and supports needed to help charities and non-profits research, experiment and develop ideas, well.

  • The Aspiration: Exploit the lessons of the Fellowship’s last 3-years to build an organization that rapidly increases civil society and the public sector's ability to generate impactful innovations.
  • Essential Reading: History of the Social R&D Fellowship (available on the Social Innovation Generation website)
  • Team: Distributed team of freelancers, in-kind contributors and community members obsessed with doing better than linear returns.
    • R&D Lead: Supriya Syal
    • Brand Refresh: Ian Capstick
    • Advocacy: Social R&D Community
    • Operations & Research Associate: Gina Babinec
    • Strategy, Community Curation & Team Lead: Jason Pearman
  • Partners: The Fellowship would like to thank the following Canadian organizations that have seen the potential for social R&D and have offered significant support: McConnell Foundation, SiG, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, Saputo Foundation, Wasan Partnership, Employment and Social Development Canada, Social Sciences Humanities Research Council, Toronto Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa Community Foundation, and United Way Centraide Canada.

Project Description:

What is Social R&D: Organizations like E180 in Montreal are using data science to strengthen peer-to-peer learning, Kudoz are applying ethnography in the disability sector in Vancouver, the Winnipeg Boldness Project are using social lab methods to create a new framework for childhood development in Winnipeg, and many more. These organizations are finding ways to deliver services while also investing in research, design, experimentation and development of new practices and services. Given a dramatic increase in demand, the Fellowship is developing a new set of supports for the sector.

Current awareness building efforts for Social Innovation, Social Finance, as well as Social R&D are not resulting in the changes necessary for these practices to become mainstream. Some contributing factors include: the language being used doesn’t resonate, the examples being used are dated or lack common themes and audience selection isn’t strategic.

This project is to develop communication strategies and tactics for the Social R&D community that are radically more impactful. In particular, we would like the fellow to draw from evidence-based approaches for impactful storytelling and communication.

Research Objectives:

Conduct research and testing to uncover impactful communication strategy and tactics to support the growth of the Social R&D Fellowship.

  • Scan the existing practices of the Social R&D community internationally, but with a particular focus on Canadian organizations.
  • Work with a subset of organizations in the Social R&D community if additional data points are needed.
  • Undertake research to distill best practices for impactful communication strategies that draw from existing methods within the sector, as well as extant and ongoing research on impactful communication in academia and other research environments. 


The candidate may propose own methodological approach. We are open to hearing about different ways in which objectives noted above may be achieved.

Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • High-level of comfort with qualitative and quantitative research methods.
    • Comfortable working with standard ‘social’ platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack, Mailchimp, etc.

    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
    2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage to Dan Madularu.