This week on The Ministry Growth Show we're joined by Ryan Johnson, Creative Manager for Compassion International and in this episode, we're talking storytelling with one of the most successful Christian organizations around. Storytelling is incredibly important for Compassion and they have made a concentrated effort at constantly improving on their storytelling with the help of Ryan and his team. In this episode, we discuss the importance of storytelling and talk about how storytelling is an incredible value add for your partners.
You're listening to the ministry growth show brought to you by Reliant Creative, the creative agency for Gospel centered ministries. Find out more at Reliant Creative dot org. Welcome to the Ministry Growth Show, a podcast dedicated to helping churches and ministries grow and make more effective impacts for the Kingdom of God in an ever changing digital world, whether you're building and growing a gospel center ministry or leading a church, if you want insight into the strategies, struggles, challenges and successes of other ministry leaders, you've come to the right place.
Welcome back to the ministry growth show today on the show. I'm gonna be talking with Ryan johnson, He's the creative manager for compassion International Ryan. Thanks for being on the show. Oh, so, so fun to be here.
Thanks for having me. Yeah. Can you share a little bit about your background with us? So we have some context for what we're going to talk about today and um, and maybe share how you got started in video production in storytelling.
Yeah, sure. So um I was that kid in junior high, early high school that was just obsessed with with film production. Um It was Gosh, it would have been back in like 2002 and not non linear editing was brand new.
Right? Final cut one had just come out. And so my high school, I was really fortunate to have the opportunity to take like film production classes in high school, so that was sort of the beginning. Um I went to film school, got an undergraduate degree in film production from TCU, um which my parents were totally supportive of, which was great.
Um I originally, you know, originally the plan was, hey let's finish film school, lets go to Los Angeles um you know, sleep on someone's couch for a couple of years, do the production assistant thing work my way up into big studio film making.
So that did not happen. I decided to pivot um near the end of film school and kind of specialize more in documentary storytelling. Um without like without unwrapping the whole story. I had a good friend of mine who I went to college um and he went into the marines and so uh it was during his third tour in Iraq that he um he died and it was for me it was this heartbreaking thing.
And instead of that kind of pushed me instead of going into like Hollywood or big studio film making, I thought you know maybe I should get into journalism, maybe I should start studying Middle Eastern politics.
Maybe I should get into like nonprofit storytelling. And so what I did is I ended up moving to the east coast after college and I got a job with um CBN News, So it's the christian broadcasting network and I worked for them as a news photographer for, I don't know, three years, four years.
And then from there I jumped into working for nonprofits and started to sort of, um, specialize in like nonprofit marketing, nonprofit storytelling, higher end production, documentary filmmaking. Um, and, and then from there were actually worked for disaster relief organization for a few years.
And then from there jumped into my, my current role. Uh, it's evolved a little bit, but my current role compassion, which is basically just to tell stories, um, and to travel and to do the do the higher end production, the photography work, the film production work a lot of its documentary based.
So, uh, so yeah, now I lead a team at compassion. I've been in compassion for, oh, like almost 8.5 years. Um, so, so I've been a compassion for a good bit of time now and uh I have a team of storytellers who work for me.
Um and they're just incredible filmmakers, photographers, we have a production coordinator and so all those folks work together and we have a big agency budget too. So we kind of um we try to um, you know, we we tried to set up the team in a way where we could accomplish a whole lot of creative projects without having this big creative team internally.
Um and so yeah, every every gosh, this past year, we, I think we probably produced, I don't know, 120 videos. Um and uh even even during COVID, we were able to really ramp up our digital kind of production and storytelling to support compassion this last year, which was which was very needed in the digital space.
So, so yeah, been a compassion for 8.5 years lead a team of storytellers and um and I work on a larger team that serves kind of the global um like our global marketing organization. So compassion has offices like fundraising offices in 11 high income countries.
Um and so I I work with them closely to make sure they have what they need to do their fundraising and marketing. So anytime someone says, hey, we've got a big idea for this, you know, really expensive video or this big, big expensive creative idea, um my team often gets involved in that.
Um so, so yeah, and then, you know, it might be helpful to set up compassion, compassion international. Um it's organization that's been around for a long time. It was started in the late fifties after the korean war.
And um and right now kind of current day, we work in 25 low income countries and we serve just over two million Children who are in our program. So they come from these 25 low income countries across East Africa, West Africa, South America, Central America and in Southeast Asia.
And so we work with with local churches uh in these low income countries to deliver compassion program and it's really contextual, looks a little different everywhere. But for the most part it's sort of it's sort of holistic child development is what we say.
So it really comes down to what the kids need in that community. So oftentimes it's some educational support, its food support, it's um infrastructure support. Uh so we we do a lot to make sure that these Children um over the course of being in our program are released from poverty and that looks a little different everywhere.
But but yeah, that's what compassion does and we do that through a sponsorship model. So, you know, you can sponsor a child um and develop a relationship, write letters, um kind of speaking to a child's life and um you know, the hope is it over, You know, the 10, 15 years, the Children are in our program that they really see sort of this this spiritual cognitive emotional development that happens that really releases them from poverty breaks the cycle of poverty and that they can go, to be.
you know, change agents in their own communities and um gosh, it's like it happens, you know, it's totally happening and I tell people all the time, especially if they sponsor a child, I tell them all the time it's it's real like it's super real.
Um It's a really good model for development. Um So yeah, long winded answer to your question, but hopefully that's okay. Yeah. So as, as creative manager overseeing these larger teams, are you getting to shoot yourself any more direct yourself anymore, or have you been kind of removed from that and are just not overseeing and delegating and, and producing? Yeah, that's a good question.
That's that's attention in my work. So I came up out of production, right? And and you did too. And so I think a part of me will always want to hold a camera and shoot. And so I tell, you know, it's at this point, my the folks that work for me and the agencies that I work with, they're all more talented than I am, and that's that's like on that's purposeful, right? That's that's how it should be.
So at this point, the people I've surrounded myself with are often much better than I am that being said. Um I still cannot help it. I'll take photos and shoot video. And so like would we make a film? Like two or three shots will be mine.
But like the vast majority of what's being shot is someone way more talented than I am and that that's good. So I tell people, you know, if you see me in the corner taking photos or shooting video while while I'm producing or directing, um don't be offended and don't feel like you have to shoot what I'm shooting.
Uh So yeah, at this point, most of my time is spent directing and building teams and developing people and um making sure that we we were putting putting together the right teams to go execute whatever creative that we're making.
Also to my time is increasingly spent on uh sort of understanding the marketing landscape. Um compassion is really committed recently too data driven, data driven like experience um and insight. So we try really hard to understand who are supporters are, why they sponsor a child, why they support compassion, um uh why they support compassion mission, what their own personal mission is.
And and a lot of that comes out through like, you know, my marketing friends out there may relate to this, but a lot of that comes out through segmentation and journeys, journey mapping and personas. And so we do a lot of sort of insight and research.
And then a lot of my job now is how do we how does that transfer into the creative space? Right. So if we're going to make a film shoot photos, how do I connect that to an insight we have about our audience or about who supports um compassion and why.
So I think my time is really spent two like understanding what our marketing teams need and why and helping them with a little bit of that strategy and connecting it to some of the data. So, so yeah, it's full spectrum.
Um I will say my favorite part of the job is still telling stories. I do get to edit a little bit. I do still gonna take photos and edit photos and um, but most of my time has not spent doing that anymore.
So that's yeah. Yeah. Now why do you think storytelling is so important and specifically for within the nonprofit and ministry sector? Why why is storytelling is kind of a hot topic and marketing? Over the last handful of years, we see the commercial space big into it and kind of I think the ministry spaces lagged behind that.
There's a desire to tell stories and tell them better. But um, why, why, why do you think storytelling is so important? Oh, it is for sure. I'll echo what you said. It's, it is super important. Um, I actually am of the belief that like storytelling has always been important.
Um, and so I, I agree with you. It feels like Especially over the last 10 years, nonprofits have sort of, um, have sort of gone. I'm nonprofits of all sizes have started to go after storytelling more seriously as a way to fundraise.
I don't know why it's taking them so long to catch up. Um, I think, I think sometimes when people say storytelling, they actually mean video or like a visual storytelling and I think that's where nonprofits have not done a good job.
And I think some of it is kind of like, uh, the cost of entry has been really high until, you know, so I think there's a sort of correlation between, um, the cost of entry to visual storytelling nonprofits have have really had trouble doing that.
Um, in the past because because it was so expensive and technology as technology has gotten better and the cost of that has gone down. Um, nonprofits have had a chance to sort of jump into it. Right. And it's not a coincidence that like independent filmmaking over the last 20 years has has exploded.
Um, and you tubing and vlogging has exploded because you can go buy $1000.2000 dollars camera. And if, if you're creative, you can, you can really create a personal brand. And uh, and I think, I think nonprofits much like sort of independent filmmakers or Youtubers, they've seen the opportunity and they've been able to jump into the market visually with their storytelling like compassion years ago, back in the seventies, compassion used to do this television program and they would spend a ton, I mean at the time, you know in the seventies it was a ton of money.
They would spend a ton of money on these television programs and they would broadcast it and they would, they would actually raise a lot of money doing that. But it was so expensive, right? And it was like once a year, compassion would would like produce this Tv series and they would broadcast it.
Um now with, with Youtube and these like open social channels, the barrier so low, you can get your content in front of people so quickly. Um, so I think all of those things are kind of swirling together and nonprofits have said, man, we need to jump jump into this.
So you know, so I think um I think storytelling has always been important, like jesus told stories. He used parables to communicate these really advanced concepts and, and parables not only were they well structured stories, but they were contextualized to people's experiences.
We often miss that. Part of it is, is like, yeah, conflict resolution, you know, like story structure is so important, but also like contextualizing a story so someone can understand it culturally. That's also a really big part of storytelling.
So, so I think that's always been around. Uh, and that's always been important. But the visual storytelling, the barrier so low now that even small nonprofits can take advantage of it. Um, and uh, but it's just new territory, like there's so there's so, it's overwhelming.
There's so many channels Youtube Tiktok um, and they change so fast, you know, the, The way we can tell stories. And I mean just even like maybe you remember this, the craze of 360 film making a couple of years ago.
Um, like a couple of years ago, everybody wanted to make 360 films and like that fizzled out. Um, and the marketing, the marketing numbers behind that, we're just really low. There was not a strong roo, at least for passion.
There was really not a strong R. O. I 23 60 filmmaking. Um, so these, you know, my point is these new technologies pop up and nonprofits don't really know what to do with them. Podcasting is a great example what in the world is a nonprofit supposed to do with the podcast? Who's the audience? Like what are the metrics to study the success of their just, these, these new things are popping up so quickly that non profits, if you just pause for a second, you can miss it.
Yeah, it's intimidating for, especially for small to medium sized nonprofits. Even a compression were really large, nonprofit. And we, um, often we move so slow that it's hard to catch some of these new things when they, when they pop up and take advantage of them.
So, you know, I don't know, but it kind of remains to be seen, right? I think things are changing so fast That maybe 10 years from now, we'll look back and say, Gosh, why did we miss this or that? It's easy to look backwards and say, well, we really miss the trend here in terms of storytelling.
Um, and, but I think when you're in it and you're managing the day to day operations of everything else, it's easy just to like, like put that, put that in the background. So yeah. Yeah. I think that's one of the barriers that we've seen is ministries are busy doing what they've been called to and they are the act of marketing and storytelling um just kind of gets lost in the weeds because they're focused on whatever they are called to.
So that's a big part of it. I think that there is, Yeah, you have those experienced barriers, but I love what you said, that jesus told stories. I think God primarily chose to speak to us through scripture, which is a collection of stories.
And so it's obviously a it's obviously storytelling is such an important piece to the character of God, like he that we know as humans that we are wired to function well in community. And such a huge piece of that is storytelling, like we that's how we engage with others.
I'm going to share how my day went with you today through telling a story of what my day looked like and and it's ingrained in us as a species like this. This is how we emotionally engaged with one another.
And so it makes sense that um, it would have power in a marketing space to try to um communicate, hey, here's what we're doing, not, not in manipulative way, but in an inspiring way. Like Simon Sinek says the way to influence people's behaviors through inspiration, not manipulation.
And so I think it has significant ramifications for the ministry space. If we would simply go start telling stories or if you already are tell more stories. I mean it's not. I uh I had a ministry tell me that we've we have, we've tried the transformational life change story before and it didn't work.
And and I asked how many life transformation testimonial style documentary style stories had they told in the last three years And they said three. So once a year they were telling a life transformation story of what was going on through the organization and expecting that to be, the thing that was a silver silver bullet like this is something that we need to be doing on a regular and consistent basis as often as we can because we know that God is working in really incredible and powerful ways and he's doing that type of stuff often.
He's working in transforming people's lives often and so go and testify of what he's done, I think is such an important um thing for ministries to take advantage of and start implementing. Yeah, I would I would add, I would add an extra thought there.
I think. Um, I think so many organizations and ministries historically have seen their and rightly so they've seen their work product as whatever their mission is, right, like for compassion, it's releasing Children from poverty, all working with Children in those low income countries, that's that's what we do.
Um And we could be so focused on that that we lose sight of the fact that we're also here to serve those, the partner with us to accomplish that mission, if that makes sense. And I think a lot of ministries lose that.
They lose that perspective of yeah, they have this mission that they're trying to accomplish and it's super important, I get that, but also they have an obligation to also serve the people who are partnering with them in that mission.
Um and so often it's like, you know, I'm gonna throw a gala and I'm gonna try to get a bunch of money and that's going to sustain us for 3 to 4 months. Um And and it's like this one time of year where they create an event uh to serve the people who partner with them.
What, And so then the question is, what does it look like to change that? And to create an experience where throughout the whole year there are these strategic touchpoints where you're actually creating a really remarkable partnership experience with an organization.
And it's so easy for me to say that on your podcast. It's another thing to actually implement it like an organization, but it's so important to treat those partners like real partners. And, and I think there's no better way to keep them engaged and to have a remarkable partnership experience through storytelling.
I think that's like that's how we can use, I mean the stories or you can be useful in so many ways, but in terms of just like treating your donors, um, whatever size treating them with with respect and keeping them engaged and creating a good experience for them.
That's done through storytelling. I think that's one of the primary ways to do that. So some non profits are so focused on just that mission. And I know that's important. But also their secondary mission or potentially even equal equal mission is to serve those that are partnering with them to accomplish that.
Um, and that's a, that's a hard mindset to switch and, and like outside of nonprofit world, that's experienced design, right? It's like, look if if someone is using my toothpaste as a product, how do I, how do I speak to them and make sure I'm meeting a problem they have.
Um, so like what problem do your donors have? What problems those that support your organization? What problem do they have? And how are you going to solve it? And you know, I think, I think so easy, we can be so focused on the toothpaste, right? Like whatever that is for us again, for compassionate, releasing Children from poverty.
Like we can be so focused on that that we lose sight of like how we should be serving those to partner with us. So I'm kind of repeating myself, but I think that's, that's a really difficult mindset and switch to enact in an organization.
Uh, and uh, and like for profit companies are successful. Big brands are successful because they do, because they do that like Nike for Nike, it's not about making really great shoes. I mean it is, they spend a lot of time and money on that.
They make really incredible shoes. But Nike it's way more than that. It's, it's the intersection of like athleticism and brand and, and, and hero for them right there. Shoes are like, yeah, they make great shoes.
But when you wear Nike shoes, Nike wants you to feel something and that, that feeling of like just go do it. That feeling is so powerful. It's adding something to you as a person and meeting a need you have, right? It's not just about the shoes.
And I think nonprofits need to figure out what that looks like for them. Well, yeah, it's basic content marketing. Right? How do I provide value for in this in the ministry sector? How do I provide value for my donor base? How do I how to, and, and that is a hard thing to do, right.
We're asking them to invest in our organizations. How do I provide value when my services directed towards and designed to be um, provided for a beneficiary, not the donor. And so how do we provide value to that donor? I say this all the time in our courses and when we're consulting with ministries is there's intrinsic value in sharing the story of a transformed life.
Like sharing those stories is a value to a donor. They we know this to be true, scripture, tells us again to go testify, go share what jesus has done in in your life and in the lives of in this case, the beneficiaries that are organizations are designed to serve and help and so in sharing that story and simply sharing that story without this is also what I we encourage a lot like without a financial ask tied to it.
You talked about the Gallas and like we don't have to ask for money every single time. We have a touch point with the donor. Go share that story. That is a value add to that donor who's hearing that story.
And we don't have to ask for donations or investment at that point. Let's just provide value up front like that. And then when we do run our gala or we do run our end of your campaign or whatever it is, you know, we've provided them value by telling a handful of stories up front, but now they're ready to go, oh yeah, I see God working in this organization in really incredible and powerful ways.
Now I'm ready to invest. So yeah, I think there is value in just simply sharing those stories and, and it's powerful and nonprofits, nonprofits are so guilty of and all companies do this, but nonprofits especially they're guilty of creating like a really incredible video.
They spend a bunch of money on it, whatever a bunch of money is to them, They spend a bunch of money on it and you know, the fingers crossed they posted to Youtube and they might google like keywords, you know, and they put it on youtube the right way and then like they hit post and they sit back and they watched it over a month and then they're shocked when it doesn't work.
Um, and that's like, that's not, that's not how, like, that's just not fundamentals of marketing, that's not how it works. And especially with an experience, like your content and storytelling should, should represent a journey, right? Like an experience that somebody goes on with your organization.
Um, and there are different points of that experience that should influence the way you're telling stories and it just sounds so obvious, right. Um, like the way you, and it's true for all brands, especially true for nonprofits.
I think you have to think about how are people interacting with your organization at different points of their own experience and that should influence the kinds of stories and the kind of content you're serving.
Um, and even like even that is a huge step forward thinking through that is a huge step forward for small medium, Even big organizations don't do that well. Um, so it's just sort of like, it's sort of journey mapping, um, is what it is and figuring out how that changes the way you tell stories.
Um, so it's, it's a tough thing to do and it takes a little bit of time. But that's, that's, I think when you can open up the power of storytelling, right, is when it's part of a larger experience, that's just my personal belief.
So that's hard to do. Or so compassion. We all are familiar with compassion and most of our audience should be. Guys are a large organization, you have immense reach and impact. You talked about the two million kids that are being sponsored.
That's incredible. So how do you go about choosing the stories that you guys decide to tell? Yeah. So we so we do a ton of storytelling, right? So so let me just set scope for a second. We have a photojournalist full time that works for us in every country that we we do our program in.
So, so I mean that's 25 photojournalist full time. They're telling stories full time, shooting photos, writing editorial. Um my team, we were doing you know, 100 videos a year for like the first time ever compassion.
And we you know, this is such an immense responsibility. So I don't say this in a way to like highlight how grand we are, but I say this as a heaviness of responsibility and accountability. We for the first time we hit a billion dollars in terms of our our yearly budget.
And we we had this like pause and look at each other and say, oh my gosh, like we are, we're becoming we're becoming one of the larger non profits in the world. And and with that there's so much accountability and trust that our supporters have put on us.
And so so that being said, storytelling can be done cheaply. It can be done in sort of an expensive way. And we do uh sort of full, my two year old is screaming in the background where there's no worries here.
So they just working from home, I have a little side office here. And so he is um my wife, we're we're all doing it. Yeah. You hear him screaming back there as I talk about child development. Um so how do we choose our stories? Um we we have to sit down and we have to think about why are we telling the story? Who are we telling the story to? Where are we telling the story? Um and and how much money should we put into it? I think those are big questions for us.
A story, a video that's going on. Youtube should be different than a video that's played at an event. Um and the video, like we, we have a really strong partnership with Hillsong. We love Hillsong as an organization.
There are such a great partner of ours. Um, Hillsong. Um, you know, puts on these big big events. Uh, you know, thousands and thousands and thousands fill up the whole stadium for these big like color conference and other big wonderful conferences and a film at color.
Like a big conference, a film at the color conference is really different than a film that we like put on facebook, right? Um, and so, so also to R. O. I like return of investment. I like to actually say return of impact.
But so return on investment. That's a big question for us. If I go spend $100,000 on a film, um, I need to have a really strong R. O. I potential attached to that. You know, if I go spend $100,000 on a film for accountability, accountability reasons and impact reasons, I need to, I need to be raising millions of dollars off of that film, right? Um, I cannot go because because compassion, the majority of our fund fundraising is sponsorship and and like my mom sponsors a child in Rwanda.
So every month My mother writes a cheque to compassion and it's I think it's like $38 a month to sponsor a child. It's actually, it's a triplet. So it's a really fun story. But um, so my mom sponsors one of these triplets in, in Rwanda and every month she writes a check for $38 and that's the vast majority of our fundraising is we have millions of, of sponsors who are writing that check every month.
And so we have that in the back of our minds if I go do a $40,000 film, um, that's a lot of $38 checks. So I need to make sure I need to be absolutely sure, um, that I'm going to go spend that money with a strong ry attached to it because that's just responsible.
I, I asked my team all the time, like, you know, this last week we were having a conversation about upgrading equipment, should we upgrade our cameras and get new equipment? And um, and we sometimes have to pause and say, should we, do we really need to do this? Do we really need to spend X amount of money on this thing? Is that really going to make a difference? So I think so.
I think those are the, those are the big things we talk about. But um, but yeah, for sure, like we need to, we right, we're big on creative briefs. So my team, whenever we want to do anything that starts with a creative brief of like why are we telling the story? What's the objective, where is it going to be used? Like how is this serving our audience? Is it is an engagement, is a retention is an acquisition.
What part of the journey is it? And so we have a lot of storytelling. We do. If you go to the compassionate website, we're telling a new story every day on the blog on facebook. Sometimes it's micro content, sometimes it's, you know, sometimes it's a really big film.
Um, we're doing all of these projects and stories ultimately, ultimately it's all serving this experience that people have with compassion. Right? And, and they all come from like whether you're brand new to sponsoring a child, Whether you, you've never heard of compassion and you're hearing about compassion for the first time or maybe you've been sponsoring a child for 15 years and you just found out that child is graduating our program, which is amazing.
And you have a decision to make, are you going to sponsor a new child? Are you going to say goodbye to compassion forever because you had a bad experience? And so we have to think about all that whole journey of experience and tell stories targeted to that.
Um because because again, we're a big organization, there's a lot of money that's going into our program and we owe it to our supporters to treat that really seriously and responsibly. So I'm really passionate about that.
I hope that comes across because like, you know, we're not selling toothpaste and and I don't mean to like, I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Um but you know, the work we're doing is like life saving work.
Um and every dollar I spend on like a new camera or a film. That's not a dollar that's going to our program um and helping Children like be released from poverty. So we care deeply about that. Um So, so yeah, it's it's there's a lot of kind of strategic work.
So I don't I hope that's not too ethereal of an answer, but the reality is there's a lot of strategy on the front end that goes into deciding what are we going to tell how and why those are the big things.
And if we don't know that I'm not going to let a team get on a plane and go travel somewhere, I'm not going to like let one of our writers spend time writing a story. We just, if we don't have that figured out yet, we're not going to jump into the creative, that's just too premature.
So we're just too big at this point. Well, I think that that is maybe some of the fears that ministries have that, you know, I don't want us, we don't want to spend however many dollars that is to tell this high production value film because that's money that we could be putting towards our cause.
But there has to be that investment in storytelling and marketing for your cost, be for there to be attention and awareness around what your organization is doing. Um you talked about the stewardship piece being such an important piece to the stories that you tell and and all of your marketing efforts.
Like we want to make sure that we're stewarding these funds. Well on the, on the flip side of that, like I think that we can be in the ministry space, there can be an exploitation of story for marketing purposes, Right? And so how do you guys go about making sure that you're not just exploiting stories for the financial benefit of your organization? Sure.
Yeah. Um yeah, like it to be cheesy. Like with that Spiderman quote, like with great power comes great responsibility. Story telling us is a really emotional endeavor and um it's like a chemical brain thing to write.
Um Dopamine is released in your when you hear a story and you hear the resolution to a story, dopamine is released in your brain, it's like a it's like a chemical reaction happening in your brain. Um storytelling can be addicting, addicting.
We all know this like we watch netflix and like we have our favorite netflix documentary or series or whatever and like T. V. Show and it's addicting like it's easy to like ignore your kids and watch Tv because it's so it's so powerful.
Um we have to use that carefully um and I would I would even I would even say like everybody has to use that carefully um regardless of of like what where you work in the sector but storytelling such powerful thing so and I would put exploitation into two buckets on one hand and this is almost more important.
I'm more worried about exploiting those Children and frontline staff who are in our programs. So on one hand, it's really important to my team to tell true authentic stories and to not exaggerate to not overreach to not like fictionalize.
Um, there's so many incredible stories from the front lines of our program and we have to be really careful to tell those truthfully. Um, like we are not making fictional films right? We are humanity.
We're doing humanitarian storytelling that requires like awareness and honesty and authenticity in our storytelling. So I can't exploit the characters in our stories. On the other hand, I also don't want to be exploitative or manipulative with our audiences, storytelling is an emotional endeavour.
So like set that aside. Um, I think there's a trend in all. Um, I was just actually talking to our our like tear fund new Zealand partners yesterday about this, there is a trend now to avoid some of that guilt ridden white savior type marketing right? That was really popular like 25 30 years ago where like marketing and storytelling was really manipulative and it was very white savior and it was very guilt ridden.
Um and we we don't do that anymore. Um We try really hard to balance the truth and the nature of poverty because because like extreme poverty on the front lines of our program, it's really ugly. Um And and not a lot of people have seen that level of like not a lot of people in Western countries have seen that level of poverty.
So extreme poverty is really dangerous. It's an ugly thing. So how do we tell that story truthfully but not in a way that makes someone feel really guilt ridden? Um I think that's a challenge we face daily because that respects the audience as well as the people that were interacting with um that are there actually characters in our story.
So there's a lot of time and attention paid to that. Um and I've got countless stories of where we did that really well, and a few stories where we didn't do a great job and we we did either exploit or manipulate the audience in a way that I was uncomfortable with.
Um so, so I think it's just something you have to be aware of and work at and improve and and protective, you know, I have a person that's on our larger team who spends a lot of time working through sensitive messaging and dignity guidelines, and like are we allowed to shoot a child you know, in this sort of environment or should we shoot a child in this sort of environment? Like how do we, how do we tell stories of, of human trafficking or child labor or um, you know, these, these like early marriage.
How do we, I'm working on a film on early marriage right now. How do we do that in a way that's compelling, that gets people to act, but also in a way that doesn't exploit the audience and doesn't exploit the people appearing in the film.
And that's something we have to work out constantly and it's something a little more unique to nonprofits, Right? Um, so yeah, that's like you and I could spend like three hours just talking about that.
Um, for sure. So it's a hard thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think, um, it's it's trying to find that balance between the hardship, the realities that exist the the conflict of the story right? But not centering in and focusing on that completely.
Like when we when we only tell the things that are hard about poverty, but and then leave it at that you're leaving out part of the story and um that can be that manipulative guilt marketing. But on the flip side, I think there's this is a trend um coming out of those years when that's all it was, was was the the white guilt type stories that heavy guilt marketing, like flies on kids faces with a cleft palate.
And that's all you saw. You know, we've seen all those films, but on the flip side of that, there's been this trend on the other side where we only have focused on the hope that exists and and the like the reality is that this is not the work that all of our organizations are doing is not roses and sunshine and, and like there's some really hard things about what exists within our work, whatever the causes.
And so we, I think it's important to try to find that balance between, hey, here's the reality. Here is the conflict that does exist. This is this is this is a hard thing. This is a hard issue that we're seeking to resolve.
But there is hope within this. There is christ is stepping into this Brokenness and doing some really cool stuff and so we can be honest about both of those things and I think it's a, it's a matter of finding the balance between those and not centering on are focusing on one or the other um because yeah, just focusing on the hope and, and the roses and sunshine of the story that can be just as much guilt marketing as only focusing on the hardship.
Yeah, yeah. And I will I will add to like, um at least in my experience covering disasters, um like working in post conflict zones, um, seeing these terrible things are happening to people's Children, like Children are so vulnerable, especially Children live in extreme poverty.
Um I have always always found hope and I think that's so important. Um and and and to your point, there's a balance between reporting on the reality of something I I encounter this all the time when I was a disaster.
I was doing disaster photography for years. Um like I can shoot a photo of a person standing on a pile of rubble and you will instantly see the conflict and like the the sort of the the extreme circumstance of someone.
And um but also to as especially as like a humanitarian storyteller, it's important to still go after that source of hope, because they're always as one, there's, there's like, it's maybe just feels cheesy to say, but I have never once not found in like, a crazy circumstance of, of, um, of conflict.
I've never, I've never not found somebody that was willing to help a church that was like, willing to do something, someone that was a hero, someone that was, was like running towards this bad thing that was happening that was, was willing to help those people always exist.
And I think that's like, you know, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who's an incredible humanitarian photographer and she says this so well, um, you know, she says that like, there was always hope in our work and his humanitarian storytellers, it's important to find that, um, not to downplay the bad thing that's happening, but, but also to represent the flip side of it.
And um, you know, truthfully, I think nonprofits do struggle with this because it's some of the finer details of like storytelling of how much hope is in a story. Um, that can be that because people can be really moved to action even if there's not a lot of hope in a story, but I think that does not do a service to the people and the heroes that are, that are in our true stories.
Um, so it's, it's a really like finite detail of storytelling. Um, but you know, as a nonprofit, you wanna get somebody engaged, You want to get them off their couch donating doing, I mean donating time, like doing something, telling people about this issue or this cause.
Um, but also you want to do it in a way that like offers them a glimmer of hope because we have that in christ, especially like faith, faith based organizations, we have that hope in christ. And it's important to like still represent that and that just knowing that line is super difficult.
Yeah, Well, and that's just the character of christ, right? He steps into the mess. He's that's that's why we, like, I've, I've experienced the same thing, no matter how difficult the situation I have in front of my camera or any, any time I've traveled, like there always is that hope you're right.
And and that is just his character, he is always stepping into the mess. He's always stepping like that's the, that's the gospel message, right? He comes, he comes into our mess that we created steps into it and makes a way out of it.
And so, um, that's agree, that's that's such a, it's always there. It's crazy. Well, the the Gospels like literally the good news, right? It's not the gospel does not mean the bad news, like there is a little bit bad news in there, but it is, it is literally the good news.
And so I think um I think we can model that in our story telling for sure. Yeah. So I think that's a good segue. Something that you said towards the end there stuck out. But um how do you guys connect and relate the stories that you're telling from the field, with your audience? Because I think it can be difficult at times to make a film engaging with a story from the field when your audience doesn't share that same a cultural experience as the beneficiary in that film.
Right? So what is compassion done in its storytelling to engage across those cultural gaps? Yeah, I kind of there's a couple different ways I can answer that. Um and so I'm gonna answer it in a way that just feels recent two conversations we're having lately.
Um storytelling is most effective when you're contextualizing it for an audience. And and so I need to know who's going to hear the story. Who are they the people that are gonna be hearing my story? Who are they, what do they care about? Uh and and the better and that that is a lot of hard work who like knowing who's going to listen to your story and who's gonna be received on the receiving end.
Um and if I know that I can better frame the story to things they care about, that's just like serving people well through storytelling, right? Um so I think so, I think that's step one know your audience and know what they care about and how that how that carries implications to your storytelling.
Um for example, a lot of supporters of compassion, they they they care about the movement of compassion. They they want to be part of this movement that releases Children from poverty, right? They want tools and resources to go to their own networks and like to tell their friends and say, look, you need to know about these things are happening to kids, these vulnerabilities that Children extreme public.
So there's like there's different people every day is different and you need to know how people are different. You need to get to know them and then that way you can frame your story in a more effective way.
Um, so so on one hand, like it's knowing who's going to listen to your story. Um on the other hand, it's it's just like classics of story. It's like the classic structure of storytelling. You need to have relatable characters and then too, I think it's important at the end of every story to reflect, like there needs to be a reflection, um, uh, that connects to, like, a greater human truth that we all experience, right? Like, here's an example, like a complex story about a mother who is like fighting for her child survival.
This is a story we hear all the time. A mother shows up with a young with like an infant or young baby shows up to our program with, with something going on, right. Um, we had we admit that child into our program and then we see impact and change, right? Um, and so this, like, that has a meta theme almost.
Mother's deeply care for their Children. Mothers are willing to do anything for their kids to give them a shot at life, so I think it's important as storytellers ultimately, like stories. Yeah, we need conflict and resolution and like, story structure is important and like relatable characters are important, but at the end you have to connect it to a broader human experience that we all have, and I think like that's the difference between a good story and a great story.
Um we we finished the film recently called Francisco, it's about a young man in Colombia who um you know, he really escaped the sort of generational poverty that he experienced. Um he grew up off the coast of northern Colombia, his father was really involved in gangs and criminal criminal activity and his mother sort of dumped him on the front steps of his great grandfather's Holmes, who was raised by his great grandfather's incredible story.
Um and at the end, very end of the story, there's one sound bite from um from some project staff and this project staff person, she says, you know Francisco, this is an example of someone who is a new creation in christ um but that is something we can all relate to, right, we're all a new creation in christ, um that is something we can all relate to.
Yes, Francisco story is unique and there's part of the story that are incredible and fantastic, but at the end of it there is a greater reflection that we can all connect with and I think that's the difference between a good and a great story, like what is that broader human truth that we're connecting to and that, you know that this is one thing I like for an interview tip, I always like finish an interview and I say like, reflect with me, what does this story mean? Like what does this story mean? Why is it important? Why are we telling the story? Um so often we're so focused on the details of telling a story that we forget to reflect on like ultimately the meaning of it, and then we forget to put that in the film.
Like people need to know why they're listening to a story. Um and if you can promise that to somebody uh and and actually deliver on that promise you made, uh that's huge. Um so like this, the tie back to this example, this film Francisco, the story starts with Francisco is like walking through a church and um and the opening soundbite is Francisco had an encounter with christ.
Um so the in the 1st 10 seconds of film, you know what it's about, sort of right, we've made a promise to you, you're about to hear a story of someone who's had a life change. Um and then the end of the story, we emphasize it again with another sound bite, right? Like I said this this this guy is a new creation in christ um and that's that's like the reflection is so critical um and it's like um you know um is it brian Reid? I think brian Reid is like this american life producer he's got and I would say anybody anybody as a storyteller should go watch this.
He does a great talk. Um and it's on Youtube. If you search like brian Reid and storytelling, it'll pop up. Um he does a great talk on how important this is this kind of reflection and storytelling, right? You're telling someone why you're telling the story in the first place and so often we forget that we just forget to like say that.
Um So yeah, I just yeah, so hopefully that kind of double edged answer was, was good, you have to know your audience, you have to know who they are. Um and then on the flip side of it, you need to find some sort of like, reflection point that offers a reason why you're telling the story in the first place.
Yeah. Do you guys follow any storytelling structures when you tell stories? Yeah, So, like, in terms of basics for sure, you know, um for me, there has to be something at stake, like, you know, so there's there's there's yeah, the basic structure of like, setting conflict resolution that's important, if we don't have that, then shame on us.
Um but there's also some finer details that we're looking for, that reflection is one of them. Um we always try to find something at stake. There's there's like, I could tell you a story where like I got into this morning, I woke up and I put my feet, my feet on this side of the bed, I got up, I went to the bathroom, you know, I like started brushing my teeth, I went downstairs, I made my cup of coffee um like I could tell a story that's very linear.
Um But if there's nothing at stake, it's a boring story, A better story is I got up in the morning, I brushed my teeth and went downstairs, I was making my cup of coffee and then I spilled hot cop, which happens to me like once a week, by the way, I like spilled my hot coffee all over my foot because I wasn't paying attention.
Um And and like so when there's something, there's something at stake um whatever that conflict is, that's that's so important, there's something it has to be something at stake for a story to be powerful.
Um That's like a flip flip. Like another way to think of that is what would have happened if that if like no one intervened. Like I asked that interviews all the time um like what would have happened if if the child hadn't been in compassion program, what would have happened? Like if someone had said no sorry, we can't enroll this child in the program.
Um Like how what would have happened? Um So yeah life's like this life saving work happened and you know heart surgery or we we we like help this family or you know stop stop this child from dying some way or you know, help treat malaria or whatever it was like yeah we did that and it saved the child's life.
But what would happen if we didn't, what would happen if we didn't go into the middle of this community and drill drill a bore hole and they like what would happen if there was no fresh water? Um I think that's sort of flip side of like how would have things been different if if this had to happen, that's really important because that gets to the heart of like what's the change? What's the transformation? So that's another thing is transformation is really big for us.
Um and then um let's see what else they just kind of big things we're looking for in every story. It doesn't have to land in the exact same spot. But um yeah, I think that's a good place, like stop, I could keep rambling for a long time about story structure, but um but yeah, I think it was the big things for us.
So not there's not necessarily a framework that you're following with consistency. Kind of letting each individual story determine the direction you go with that with that piece. Yeah, absolutely. For us the process is more, it's more production oriented, so it's not necessarily, I don't have, like, there's not like a slide we all have that says, you know, setting, like conflict, transformation resolution, reflection.
Like, I think for us that's going to look different every we're working with true stories, the real stories. And so, um, so for us, the work is on the front end of, of doing our pre production or research and asking like, is this a story worth telling? Does it have the elements we care about? Is it going to serve us in terms of fundraising and marketing? Um, is the story complete? That's something we do with all the time.
Is we, we we hear this great story and we, we go digging and we do research and we figure out like, I don't think the story is done yet. You know, I don't think the story is over. Um, and you know, you can go tell a story and be there as the stories progressing, like, like true Fly on the Wall documentary, you know, filmmaking where you're there as the conflict is being resolved or experience.
Like that's great filmmaking. That's expensive film making by the way. Um, you know, for us, we have to ask ourselves, is the story finished? Should it be finished? Like, is that needed for this piece of storytelling? And in terms of the marketing that we're doing because because it's acceptable to go tell a story that doesn't have an end, but as long as you know that, and that's what you want, if that makes sense, You know, I'm sure you've experienced this where you show up, you get off the plane, right? You like, you like put the batteries in your camera and you go, do you shoot your first story and it's like totally different than what you thought, right? Um and and that's a hard thing because you want, you should be doing the pre production research because when you fly to like Burkina Faso in West Africa, you want to be absolutely sure that the story is as you think it is and that it has the elements that you think it does and you can't always 100% be like dead on with that, but you need to do the work on the front end to make sure the story is what you need, it's like purpose built for whatever your objective is.
So um we care we care way more about that than um, then we do about, like nailing down the formula for a story, but I mean very truthfully like my team, they're so great, they're really talented storytellers.
And so it is really rare that we have to even have these conversations because it's ingrained in them. What makes a good story, Like, that's one of the interview questions I asked when I'm hiring somebody is like, I say, what's what makes a good story, like what's important to you in a story, right? Just open ended, and then I'll actually ask them to tell a story.
Like, I love that interview question, I'll just say, hey, tell me a story, like, sometime that, you know, there's some, some, like, some influential, like, thing happened in your life, tell me that story.
Um because good storytellers, like, they'll be able to do that, you know what I mean? Um And so so I think the people I work with um most of them just know that and actually this gets down to like a deeper belief I have that storytelling is actually in us all, its innate in us all.
Like we can refine that skill, but um we're all capable of of telling powerful stories. Um not that we don't need to develop that skill, but we all have that in us. Um and and we, you know, people experience stories all day long, it's actually one of the challenging parts of of what we do Zach, I think it is.
Mhm. Like daily everybody experience the stories at the dinner table when they're watching tv right, when they're listening to music, when they're listening to podcasts, everybody's experiencing story which makes them feel like an expert.
Um and I think everyone has the potential to be an expert and as a storyteller, but everyone is experiencing stories which makes them feel like an expert. Um And and in a way they are because they're consuming content, but also to like, there is a craft to develop.
So I don't wanna I don't wanna like take away from the craft that storytellers have to develop, but um but yeah. Yeah, Well, and and that makes it difficult to tell an engaging story because we're so inundated with already great storytelling on a consistent basis, so all the more reason to be telling stories well, and making sure that we're putting effort into that and not.
Um Yeah, I think that's important. Um How many you mentioned, you guys tell about 120 stories year, is that right? Oh, so my team made 100 and I think 100 and 10 videos this past year. Um, wow. And so, but, but like on our larger team with those photojournalists, you know, we're doing In terms of just in terms of scale, um, those photojournalists are doing 123 stories a month and there's 25 of them.
So you're talking about like just story destroying numbers. You're talking about thousands of stories. But, but our audience is big enough and our channels are diverse enough and we work in enough countries in terms of fundraising countries.
That makes sense for us, right? Um, like yes, we have a U. S. Market, that's the biggest market for us. But also we work in Germany and the UK and Australia new Zealand. We work in south Korea. And so in terms of scale, we can do that like most, most nonprofits aren't that big.
And so if you just have a U. S. Market, um like you, I guess what I'm saying is like, like if you're a small nonprofit don't tell 1000 stories, you can't do that. But yeah, when I guess what a lot of time retelling.
Yeah. What I'm getting at is um with that many stories coming in, you talked about earlier the importance of having a strategy around sharing that content and not just, You know, posting something to YouTube and fingers crossed, it gets 1000 10,000 views.
Right? So can you with the stories that you have coming in on a regular basis? Maybe can you kind of walk us through a high level picture of what your content strategies look like? Um, once you've got those stories that it's not centered on just Alright Post and we're under the next story.
Like what does that look like with with the rollout of those stories to get that in front of your audience? Sure, a lot of work goes into that. So we have an editorial calendar. Um I have my own production calendars.
Um we have a lot of meetings. Not always meetings. Actually try to avoid meetings if I can, but you know, like we'll have like these quick 15 minute meetings where I'll chat with the marketing team, I'll get on with like a marketing director and say, Hey, we're making like, we're thinking about making this thing.
What do you think? Um do you think this would land with your audience? Who is your audience? Why why would this film work or not work? In theory? Right before we even make it? So we like test out our concepts before we make something.
So we have we have editorial calendars, we have editorial managers. Um we when it comes to more of our like photo editorial work, right? So like non video stuff. Um we try to have topical and regional diversity.
So we're thinking okay, like, you know, we we've told a lot of stories of um I don't know like we told a lot of wash stories from West Africa. We should probably like get some wash stories because because that works happening everywhere, we should probably get some wash stories from like East Indonesia or like Southeast Asia.
Right? So there's a lot of, there's a lot of like topical consideration. There's regional consideration. Um We want to make sure that we're telling, um we're telling relevant stories. So you know, if if there's a big our program is so contextual.
So the work we do is so different in every country. There's a lot that's the same, but there's a lot that's different. And so how do we make sure we're serving our donors if, if there's like a bunch of donors who are funding this like incredible income generation activity in kenya or in East Africa, Like how do we make sure that we're covering that? Right.
So a lot of it is just being like in relationship with donor teams, being in relationship with social media teams, being in close conversation relationship with all these different teams who are serving our supporters.
And so we build, we're building our teams more and more towards that of like how do we support and serve, um, our supporters. And, and so there's a lot of people compassion who are like in charge of that, of knowing their, of knowing their neighbors and we go and chat with them.
Um, and so we want to make sure that the stuff are making is relevant to them, like more tactically speaking. Again, we have calendars, we have workflows, we have like project management systems. We have a great digital asset management system where everybody can go and pull those stories and use them.
We have content debriefs where after we've made something we'll share it with with some of the teams and we'll say, hey, do you guys think this film is useful will get feedback from them? We use frame I oh, it's a great platform for video feedback.
Um We have uh media asset management system, we're actually like implementing right now in addition to a digital asset management system. Um So we we have these like robust processes and systems that allow us to move media just tactically speaking, how do we get media around the world? That's like a whole nother thing.
Um so I think this last year, just like just kind of like in this answer this last year was crazy for us as it was for all non profits. Not only could we not travel, but our program was, our program is brought to the edge.
This past year. Our program is delivered through frontline Church partners. And when countries going to, when the Philippines went into lockdown, guess what? The kids couldn't go to the church to receive our program, they couldn't go to like the child development centers.
And so, so, so not only do we have to like pivot the way we were telling stories. We had to pivot the way we were fund raising. A lot of our fundraising was event based, right? Like big concerts and awesome partnerships with Hillsong and a lot of church events.
We couldn't do that, everything was locked down. So like, not only like how do we tell stories when we can't travel and how do we do that in a digital space? Because the truth is, um like we're not again, I'm not not digging on like Procter and Gamble here, but we're not selling toothpaste.
Um we were our programs are like this life saving work for Children who are extremely vulnerable, experiencing extreme poverty. And so like if I don't do my good, if I don't do a good job storytelling and raising money gets through, that impacts it impacts kids on the front line of our program who are more than ever this last year were in desperate need of uh of our program.
And we have not only do we have to find new ways to serve them, We need to find new ways to serve our supporters. And so that was a big lift this last year. And so for us like to tie it all together these digital, these digital processes and systems.
And we we spent more time than ever this last year learning about our supporters and how we can serve them digitally. Um and we're still doing that. That is going to take years to get better and better and better at that.
Um, so, so yeah, like there's a lot I could impact their. Um, but I think I think, um and I'm not saying we're good at any of that. Like we're getting better at it, right? I don't want to create the illusion that we're like killer doing all of this stuff, but we we we have a commitment to being better and better and better as a non profit at doing this, but just as good as any of the biggest brand for profit brands on earth.
Um, so, and and like all that sad, like the lives of our Children depend on it right in our program who need our program, who rely on it. Um, so mm so what would you, what would you say? Maybe to close us off? Close us out today? What would you say to smaller organizations? To encourage them to tell this type of stories that we've talked about today more often? Yeah, I would say it starts with knowing who your supporters are.
Step one, like if you're not, if you're not actively talking to your supporters and figuring out who they are, you going to fail? So step one, start there. Step two ask them what kind of stories they like, What kind of stories do they want to hear? What would serve them in their journey with your nonprofit And ask them like put yourselves in their shoes, start with some empathy and and say what is my experience like as a donor working with this small organization? Right.
And then, and then look for for points along that, that experience where you could tell stories, Uh, and an effort to actually improve the experience of of one of your supporters and then start small, you do not need to be spending like $40,000 once a year on a film that will fail.
Um, what is much, much more likely to succeed is being strategic with your storytelling and say, is this like, is this piece of story and I would start cheap? Is this piece of story meant to create awareness for our non profit? Is it meant to like retain a donor? Is it reporting? Is this this story meant to engage? Is it meant to like, is this story meant to take a set of donors who have already given a little bit, but who could give a lot more? Like coulda story serve them? Um, and if so like what are the implications? Like good agencies will do that.
Um, and uh, but again, it doesn't have to be a lot of money. Just be purposeful. Ask yourself what is the objective? And I know that sounds so obvious, but so many nonprofits come up with a cool film idea and this, this happens in compassion still where someone will come to me and even executives will come to me and say, Hey brian, we have a sweet idea for a film and maybe it is a cool idea for a film.
But we often stop stop those because I mean like trust music, I love making cool films. Like I would love nothing more than just to make every cool film. But often I have to stop and like say to this to this person, what is your objective? Because guess what you may not have to, you may be able to achieve that at a much lower cost.
You may not like maybe a film isn't right. So many people just want to make a video, like let's make a video, you know, but like stop and say maybe one photo would actually serve this purpose. Maybe like audio would serve this purpose.
Maybe a nice well written email would serve the purpose. So I think it starts with like knowing your audience what and the next step, what is the purpose? And then the next step is how can I do this in the most like accountable way that takes, takes into account stewardship.
Um And if at some point you you look you look around at a room full of people and you say you know what we do need to make a $40,000 film, like go forth and make an awesome film. Um but like don't, don't land there at first.
Um so also to like just really practically speaking, uh go develop relationships with universities, local colleges. There are so many kids out there, teenagers, 16 year olds, 18 year olds like that, want to tell stories.
They're good with their phones, they're good with technology. Go leverage that put together an editorial calendar. Ask yourself like what am I releasing when and why Winner are big campaigns? Like, oh my gosh, put it on a calendar.
You'd be shocked how many nonprofits don't have an editorial calendar. And there they don't like don't have a plan out over the year, right? They don't like, they might have like one or two dates on a, on a yearly calendar, but like plan it all out in the calendar and then start to plug in some ideas um and start to like, like say on Mondays we're gonna be doing this, this is who it serves and why.
And then like at this point in april we're going to run a campaign and we feel like this campaign would serve you know, X. Y, zed audience and um whatever. I think I think like put together a calendar, it's a hard like if you're a big organization that's hard because there's so many people speaking into it.
But but man like fail, fail, fail fast, build small test things don't and don't go blow like 50 grand on a film without asking why are we making this film? So again, like college kids are great, go like go get some college kids and interns to make some content for you.
Um storytelling comes in all shapes and sizes so it's like people are so quick to jump into a video but also to like Really, really there's a, there's a diminishing return. This is important. Can I say this? I know we're running so far over time so don't worry about it.
Is that like there's a diminishing return, right? Like if you make a $10,000 film, the $20,000 version of your $10,000 film, it's going to be a little bit better. But as you add more and more money, that film gets incrementally better.
Um in in such small ways like you're $100,000 film is just gonna be a little bit better. Like a tiny bit better than your $50,000 film. So the first, the most movement in terms of quality is in the 1st $15,000.
Right? If you go, if you say, hey Ryan, make me a film for $100 I'll do it. The $000 film is going to be not very good, right? It's going to be my cell phone. I'm gonna go quick. I'm gonna edit on my cell phone.
I'm gonna send it to your email. Like that's a very different video than if you said, hey, here's $15,000. Um like that's a very different film. But as you throw more and more money at something creatively um it's going to get like Better and better and much smaller ways.
So if you spend $2 million $75,000 film. Truthfully, it's going to be a little bit better. And non profits have to be good at knowing that when it actually makes sense to spend $1 million dollars on a on a film, you know? Um So that's a tough thing to learn.
Like you learned that the hard way for sure. Well for for a lot of these small to medium sized organizations, like compassion is a gigantic organization with a lot of people involved. And don't, I think there's a tendency for those small organizations to look at compassion to go, oh this is what compassion did, or this is what world Vision did or this is what I.
J. M did this year. And we need to go replicate that because that's what they're doing. It's like, okay, yeah, let's uh let's start a little bit smaller because those organizations have a lot different budget realities than are these smaller organizations.
And so how do we, how do we story tell? Well, because it's we've talked about how necessary and important and powerful it is, but not necessarily try to follow everybody else and what they're doing. So that's good.
Yeah. Yeah. And like it's so it's these these big organizations. We we do a lot of small scale, small scale storytelling that you'll never see. Right? We do that. We do. There are projects where it's like, all right, let's spend like $500 on this because that's all we have for this project.
Uh, like it's likely that most people will never see that. Um, but like we, you know, Yeah, I just it just eats me when people, when small organizations have this incredible mission. Like you were saying this before that you were saying this before, I think we officially started the podcast thing.
Um, these small organizations have this incredible mission. Like the hearts and minds of people are just so laser focused on this incredible mission and they're just not using story. They're not using storytelling at all.
Not strategic. They're not even doing it at all. Like I would, I would say to people like don't, if you're real, if there's really just if there's like no storytelling happening at all, don't even worry about the strategy.
Like I mean I'm like I don't wanna stick my foot in my mouth because you should, but just like you got to start, you gotta start somewhere right. Like B. B that ambassador for story in your organization.
If you're like if you're a nonprofit with like four people, one of you needs to like learn to be the story ambassador. Um and that's just so important because it's such a such a waste of of what God has given us in terms of our ability to tell stories and connect with people.
Like develop empathy and action and like it is so story based, moving people to action is so story based. Um and if you're not doing that, then your mission is going to suffer and your mission can't suffer because it's too important.
Well, Ryan, this has been incredible you and I think could probably talk for three or four hours about this stuff, but um we gotta, we gotta end somewhere uh if people want to get a hold of, you learn more about what you're doing at compassion, how how can they do so Sure.
Yeah, like gosh, reach out to me, go to compassion dot com. Um if you're looking, there are so many organizations that do child sponsorship, I would say this don't even don't stress out about where to sponsor a kid.
Child sponsorship is an incredible way to change entire countries. It changes a child's life, a community, you can change a city, you can change a country and I believe this, I think you can make radical impact in the world and it starts small and you can sponsor one child like but I would say this more than anything, more than like plugging compassion find a cause you care about get off your couch and go do it, learn about it, donate your time, donate your energy.
Um there are terrible things happening in the world, but I would say just like more than plugging compassion, go be the kind of person that's going to make a difference in the world, right and get off your couch.
There's no better time than right now than than to do that. So compassion dot com. If you want to know more about compassion as an organization, um I have, if you want to follow me on instagram, I do a lot of like micro storytelling there.
Uh, that is um, at Ryan johnson films, my website is the same Ryan johnson films dot com would love to answer questions. Um, or or just if anybody wants to connect, I'm here so feel free, awesome. Well, can I pray for you real quick before we sign off? Yeah, I would love that.
Yeah, Father just lift up Ryan and all the storytelling that he's doing. He's such an incredible talent. Thank you for his willingness to enter into the invitation that you've given um, to, to work with compassion, to story tell on your behalf, to share what you're doing.
Father doing some really cool stuff all over the world Through compassion and 10,000 other organisations and so um we just are so thankful that we get to be a part of that in some small way and I pray that you have blessed compassion that you would continue to grow and make this organization impactful for your kingdom and lead Ryan and his team as they just go about sharing the stories of how you're doing those incredible things father, we know you're doing some really cool stuff and we just want to bring you glory by sharing those stories.
We love you, jesus, jesus name Amen Ryan. Thanks so much man for being on the show. I appreciate it. This has been awesome. Oh my pleasure. Thanks for thanks for the invite and um yeah, it's really fun to hang out for a bit awesome.
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