The second annual TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge has begun! If you've already created a video or photo story according to the challenge guidelines, you can head over to the challenge site and submit it now.

If you haven't gotten started on your submission yet, check out the details on the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Event page, where we've also got plenty of opportunities to help you create your 60-second magnum opus and win some great prizes.

TechSoup just wrapped up its first digital storytelling webinar of the event, How to Tell Your Digital Story, with Michael Margolis of Get Storied and Rob Kershaw of the Center for Digital Storytelling. We had nearly 700 in attendance, a TechSoup webinar record, with participants from almost 20 countries worldwide, including Afghanistan, India, Guatemala, the Philippines, Nigeria, Australia, and the Netherlands. Michael and Rob went over the basics of developing a compelling digital story, and here are a few of their more salient points from the webinar.

Rob Kershaw (@storycenter), community projects director at the Center for Digital Storytelling:

Be gentle on yourself. Allow some of your organization the time to be creative.

When you look at a financial statement, a financial statement has numbers on it. Those numbers are meaningless until you put a story to the numbers. What do those numbers actually mean? You have to get to the core meaning of what your work is about. That's what people care about. You're going to have numbers, you're going to need numbers. You've got numbers up the wazoo. But the biggest challenge is most of your organizations are over-rationalizing your stories to death. It's not the guilting and shaming story, but it's the story that really excites people. I want to be a part of that. I really believe in that. That's the story you're sitting on that you need to figure out.

The world of organizations is vast and everybody seems to be kind of chirping at the same song. I think part of it is how the media has been centralized. There's been a centralized sense of what media is, what media should look like, what digital media should look like. What's happened is people have been kind of lemmings down that road. Following that lead as opposed to saying, what's unique about our organization?

Mike Margolis (@getstoried), founder and president of Get Storied:

People have stopped believing and identifying and buying into the old stories. There's a lot of struggles with this. The old story of philanthropy ' we're down and out, we're doing God's work, we're doing the best that we can, please help us ' that's a story that falls on deaf ears. Most of the time we're used to nonprofits communicating to us, basically asking for money. We're constantly out there saying not only give us money, but it's usually a crisis ' the house is on fire, something terrible's happening. The challenge with that is, we're being bombarded with so many of these pitches and appeals, we just zone it out.

Tell a story that people can identify with as their own, and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears.

It's less about how you tell the story. It's not about quality. It's having a story that's worth telling. When you have the story that's worth telling, the story tells itself and travels.

The webinar recording is available for those who missed the event (you can also see just the slides), and you can also join in on the followup discussion on the TechSoup forums. We've also got a second webinar scheduled for January 20 that focuses on Tools for Digital Storytelling. Register now if you want to learn what you need to shoot, produce, and broadcast your digital story.

You can also follow the conversation across Delicious, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube using the #TSDigs tag. That tag will be used for Twitter chat roundtables with digital storytelling experts at 11 a.m. Pacific time on on January 18 and January 25. You can also view the transcript from our January 11 Twitter chat.

The deadline to submit your entry is 5 p.m. Pacific time, January 31, 2011. Prizes include video cameras from TechSoup partner Flip Video (also see the Flip donation program), GoToTraining online training software from Citrix Online (also a TechSoup partner, see the Citrix donation program), and more. Check out all the prizes on the event page. Now stop procrastinating and get those cameras rolling!

Carlos Bergfeld
Product Content Manager, TechSoup Global