How to Enjoy Fundraising and Build Better Relationships, with David Oaks

How to Enjoy Fundraising and Build Better Relationships, with David Oaks

Fundraising doesn’t have to be a chore! Why should it be? We get to invite people into a greater story. David Oaks and I had a fun conversation about the simple things that build better relationships and raise more money for your mission.

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Kay  00:01

Welcome to Episode 63 of the Life and Mission Podcast. I’m Kay Helm, and Today my guest is fundraiser, David Oaks. Now, don’t run because you don’t like fundraising because I’m telling you, if you listen to this interview, you are going to be sold on fundraising as like the most fun thing you can do. It is this, this interview was a blast. Before starting his own business. David was a successful Christian pastor who maximized relationship and organizational growth strategies to build larger organizations. And nowadays, you’ll find him coaching nonprofit leaders, leading capital campaigns and making new friends on the international stage. All while mentoring young men and women at home and abroad through his own nonprofit, Bethlehem International School Foundation, David talks about minor touches that result in major gifts.

Kay  00:55

And I really want you to hear this, there are a couple of things that you can do that are really simple. And if you’ll do it, it will make the world of difference in your fundraising. So let’s jump right into the interview with David Oaks. Hi, David, welcome to the life and Mission Podcast.

David  01:17

Kay, it is my privilege and honor to be here with you. I’ve already told you you know this, but I’ll tell all of the people who follow you found you and I stalked you. And the reason that we’re here friends and the reason we’re going to be great friends, even in the future, because I’ve already decided. I stalked you and listened to your podcast, I’ve overdosed on – I say overdose, od. I find people and then od on them. And the more I hear and know and learn about you, the more I think David, that was a great decision to pull Kay Helm into your life. So it’s my honor to be here, there are about five people that I’ve picked, I can tell you who they are, you know, I’m all their big shots, big and amazing people. And I’ll start them all and I’m almost at the end of pulling them into my life. God has been so good to me. So thank you for letting me be here today. You’re one of my heroes, I follow you and I’m learning from you. I’m learning from you. And I love it.

Kay  02:20

I’ve actually done the same thing with you. I’ve been through your podcast episode. You know, I

David  02:27

get a lot of emails and I don’t open them all. But I open all of yours. And and because it’s just it’s good stuff. It’s good stuff and aligned to what we’re doing here. So

David  02:38

 I need people like you as partners in my life to help me because I just write whatever comes to my gut, whatever I face. And I don’t know if it’s worth anything. I’m really, as they say, throwing a lot of stuff against the wall, trying to find out what what sticks and what actually helps people everything that goes through my mind and all my musings are not helpful. Okay, trust me when I tell you that.

Kay  03:06

I don’t think I don’t think you’re alone in that I sometimes it’s funny, isn’t it? How that sometimes the things that you think are the best, at least with me, sometimes the things I’ve worked the hardest on that home, shaped and spent the time on. And I’m really proud of it. Those things like they’re just, like duds. And then the things that you just kind of did off the cuff or got surprised by, or you just kind of threw something out there and it sticks.

David  03:36

There was a few months ago that I was getting contribution statements in the mail. And I got one and I ripped it open. And it was the statement and it showed my monthly giving, because I had given not largely- I don’t have a lot of money to give. But I gave consistently. And there was just that statement. And it just struck me as wrong. It looked like somebody would have just, at least wrote on the sheet, put a sticky note or printed a form letter and said, Hey, thank you for all you did this year, an off the cuff just off the cuff. I just sat down and wrote just out of the top of my head. Don’t like never I don’t remember the title but it was ‘never send out a naked contribution statement’. And remember, that’s been one of my most the people speak back to me about that. And I think gosh, I’ve sat down and honed and written and I’ve got I’ve hired a coach to help me to write great post. Nobody’s much responded and this little thing that was 10 minutes off the cuff and before I knew better, I’ll press in and send it out to everybody. That’s been something that more people have responded to. Hey, I heard that I heard that you know, so we don’t know. We don’t know is what

Kay  05:00

I you know, and and, and and I want to say this early because I don’t want people to bail out on this episode because we’re going to talk about fundraising, that fundraising is not a bad word.

Kay  05:15

You know, because I know I know a lot of folks that go Okay, it’s like a necessary evil like we say that about fundraising and marketing. And and actually, I have to tell you, I’ve enjoyed both. And I know you, I know you enjoy fundraising, and raising

David  05:30

is fun. I say that fundraising is fun. And if people just look back at me, and there it’s

Kay  05:37

It’s right – is right in the word.

David  05:42

I gotta use that. Thank you. It’s got a little one liner there. Thank you. Okay. But yes, I say it’s fun. We both are great friends with Mary Vallone. And I can never forget, forget the landing pain of her website. I don’t know if it’s still the same, because she just changed it. But it was fundraising just got easy. And I just think I’m gonna love you, Mary. But I’m stealing that I’m gonna change it a little. I want my picture to be on my website. And I wanted to say, fundraising just got fun. It’s the most fun thing in the world. I don’t know why everybody is not standing in line going. Would you please let me would you teach me it’s it’s one of the most fun things in the world. It is. It’s not hard. It’s not. It’s not hard. It’s just fun. I don’t know what else to say. That’s probably why I have a job. Right.

Kay  06:34

There you go. Yeah. And I mean, we all have, right, our strengths and our weaknesses, I think but I think a lot of times we avoid the fundraising part. And a lot of us, you know, we’ve got I had I was sharing my story. And one day I’ll, I’ll share it on the whole podcast, but just kind of the short story of getting thrown into this ministry. And I had to learn fundraising, because it was necessary for us to see the vision fulfilled. And in our case, we had kids that we needed to provide food for. And so there was just such a factor of this absolutely has to be done, that it drove me to learn as much as I could about this kind of fundraising and nonprofit,

David  07:18

You know, the good thing like she said, Don’t tune out. The wonderful, amazing thing about fundraising is the same as marketing. You and our close friends, again with Mike Kim. And I know you’re helping him with his book. But Mike is famous to me what I always I can hear Mike’s in my head, lots of times I hear, you know, when I make doesn’t try to do my marketing, but he says, “Marketing is not about making a sale. Marketing is about opening and nurturing a relationship.”

David  07:49

And so fundraising, all that you learned about fundraising that works really was not about getting dollars. It taught you how to have better relationships. And so what I learned from Mike about opening relationships, it I just think, Oh my gosh, this is fun. Raising, it is not about getting dollars. It’s not about getting money. It’s about nurturing relationships. And that makes it easier. It also makes it fun, because I love people most of us do. And when you have great relationships, it makes every day just a joy to live. If it weren’t for great relationships, why would we get up every day and keep going? this world hurts, it will hurt you. Life is tough life will hurt you. The one thing that makes it all worthwhile, and they’re eternal. I’m a man of faith, and you get to take my relationships with me to the next life. Oh my God. So we’re not just friends for now, girl, you’ll have your own planet one day, and I’ll have my own planet one day and the kingdom that never quits expanding. And I’ll be popping over to Kay’s planet today, you know, and I get to keep you forever. That’s what fundraising is. It’s not about making $1 from you. It’s about the relationship that we’re going to celebrate eternally. And when I look at it that way, and not hard is not tough. It’s fun because it’s about how I get to enjoy you and you get to enjoy me. Okay, that’s it. Oh, my God, I don’t know what’s good. I don’t know what else in life is worth that much. It’s It’s wonderful.

Kay  09:40

You know, we were talking about marketing a little bit before we hit record too. And and for me, that’s the whole marketing and like, like Mike says, he has built a relationship, but it’s for me, it’s sharing the stories. You know, I’m kind of stories. And it’s, it’s I love to let me tell you what happened. Easy actually fun? Yeah, hold on. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, so job, we’re doing stuff over in, you know, with our ministry, we’re doing stuff and you know, West Africa and Asia and different places where a lot of the folks that are giving have never been or will never go themselves. And and sometimes we forget that. And and we think it, we make it only about just the the things we’re doing, and not about the people we’re working with and about the stories that come out of it. And it’s time to broaden that out and say, How can I bring? How can I bring my friends who are giving and help them meet my friends? Who are on the other end of this training? And who are a part of us? Because we’re all part of this thing together. And how can I kind of bring us all together? And just

David  10:58

make a part? Yes. And that’s the power of stories. I teach and say that stories are the currency that nonprofit leaders collect in order to pay their donors. And if you see yourself as a collector of stories, and you’ve got donors that are waiting for to be paid, then you work hard to get the stories and then not just getting the stories, but there is an art and there’s a skill to storytelling. And that’s why I’m pulling you into my life because I again, I teach it and I believe it, I know it, the more the better you get at being a storyteller, the more money you’re going to raise the greatest fundraisers are wonderful storytellers. And Kay, we’re not telling stories about the carpet we laid in the back of our mission house, or the new van that we bought. I know that matters. I know it matters.

David  12:01

But honestly, a story about a constituent that gets to ride in that van. And the joy on their face or the pain that we take away from them having to ride in an old jalopy. That story is much more powerful than my story. Hey. We got a new van. So I’ve made I’ve been on the mission field. I go, I’m on the mission field. And I flew in, I flown for 18 hours. And I’ve got in an old jalopy of a van that beat me half to death for another four or five hours. I’m telling you, there are great stories there. If they can be mined. So anyway, how in the world did I go there? I don’t Okay, I’m full of hot air. And you just get me excited about fundraising. But storytelling and stories that his stories are fun, stories are easy. Once we started sort of go into it and learn the craft, and you are an expert.

David  13:13

That’s why we all need you, Kay, because you are an expert in the craft of storytelling. And if we become better storytellers, and I think I think that’s why fundraising feels so dirty because we think fundraising is about me asking you for dollars. Fundraising is about me telling better stories. What are you kidding me? That’s easy as pie! if you didn’t explained it to me that way. I hadn’t been doing that lots earlier. Fun, right? The better you better storyteller you become, the more money you raise. It’s that simple. That easy. Now, you have a craft Kay, and people pay you and pay you well to help them with that. So as nonprofit leaders as fun writer raisers, we Raiders, fun writers on funding your bank account from my mission, as fund raisers. When we understand the strategy, and the power of great stories, and not just stories, we’ve got to understand the technique and the craft of storytelling.

David  14:27

Once we understand that we can give our heart and loves to it as I have begun to I’m not an expert storyteller, but I’m making friends who can teach me and you and Mike Kim and your expert, you’ve learned that craft of storytelling so of course I pulled you ma I’m just a stock storyteller than doing my best to get them in my life. Your one. I want and I need you. Fun-raising the fun in fundraising comes when we understand that it’s a big gushing river to cross, we look at the river and think, Oh, dear God, how can I cross that river? Well, when a guide shows up and says, Look, do you see that rock? Yes. You see the second rock about halfway through? Yes. Do you see that next rock? Yes, jump on the first one, you get on that one, hop to the second hop to the third, hop over, you’re done, then suddenly, with a Oh my God. Now, instead of looking at this horrible raging river, you know what I’m looking at? I’m just looking at this three easy rocks that I’m about to jump off, jump on. You know why? Because now I have a guide who’s shown me that. So anyway, I think fundraising once somebody shows up, and gods are focused to those three rocks that we can, maybe with just a little effort, maybe they’re not so easy, but with a little effort, I can jump to that first rock. And with some effort, and with some guidance, I can an anger that other than that becomes my focus. There’s a raging river there, but I’m not looking at that. That raging river is scary. Yeah, know what, those three rocks, somewhat scary, I could miss somewhat. But with help, I’m going to focus on those and I’m going to do it. And then it becomes fun. And somebody says, what would you hate fundraising? What are you talking about? Fundraising is jumping on that rock jumping on that rock, jumping on that rock hitting the shore on the other side, which is, you know, I’m focused on those rocks. And the the other side we’re being fully funded is and when you get fully funded, oh, my goodness, you.

David  16:45

Those are, that’s a set of glasses, that you begin to look at the whole world, you start looking at the kingdom in a whole different way. And when you live with a poverty mindset, I don’t know it just sort of we we see poverty, we see lack. And we see that there’s not enough and then we begin to act that way. And we just attract people who are struggling also. And it becomes hard. So I don’t know, focusing, having a strategy, and then focus on abundance. There’s enough money in this world to fund all of our missions dozens of times over Yes, I can double what I’m doing. There’s enough money in the world, trust me, there’s more money than we need. But there’s few of us who understand how to get to where it’s at. And I think that’s why there are so like, they say it’s not crowded at the top that 1% there are a few people who have way more money than they’ll ever need to eat tomorrow on or to pay the rent. I think if we can understand how to get to that, then we move on up the hierarchy where there is no lack. We don’t see it, and we don’t have it. So fundraising is about relationships, seeing a path, and then just enjoying it along the way. enjoying it along the way. I’m a person of faith, the God I serve. He’s not sitting up in heaven fretting over how I’m going to meet my budget. Nope, nope. And if I can see the world of the kingdom like he does, I will be going, no problem. They’re not a problem there.

Kay  18:33

That’s right. That’s right. I you know, before we started, I was gonna say I was gonna ask you if if what is one other word that you could use instead of fundraising? And my guess is you would say,

David  18:45

you know, it can be friend raising and raising a relationship maximizing, you know, aka just how to have more friends in this world. How to give people is this a fundraising, aka this, these are some good blog posts, Kay, you’re helping me aka, I’m giving people amazing opportunities to go places all over the world. And to kick history in its side. And never leave your easy chair. You can do it by just interacting with our mission. And that’s awesome.

David  19:32

I have my own nonprofit and we’re starting a school with Palestinians who don’t speak our language, don’t know our faith and don’t hold our faith in the Middle East. And I just think oh my gosh. How often do people in my part of the world in South Georgia, how often to people in South Georgia. Get to Kick history in its sides, how often do we get to impact history in the Middle East? That’s pretty rare. That’s the opportunity I’m bringing into my donors. It’s historic. You want to make history. Come go with me and bring your checkbook and bring your checkbook. This is You and I are going to impact history together. This thing’s historic. If it was a historic, I wouldn’t be doing it. If it wasn’t changing the world as we found it. You and I are about to correct some injustice. How often do we get to do that? I didn’t get to march with Martin Luther King, I want to hope that I would have if I had the opportunity, I want to believe I would have I don’t know. But I’m telling you, I’m not going to miss my chance today, to march with history. I’m marching with history. I’m kickin history and at sides. I’m making history. fundraising is me bringing you the opportunity to make history. You and I are going to take this world. And together, we’re going to leave it a better place than we found it. Oh my God, okay. I’m telling you, it makes me want to get my checkbook out right now. That’s all I can think of is I bring these opportunities to donors, you know, they say after they write their check, thank you. And if you need more, they’ll always wink wink and go, here’s what I’m doing. But if you don’t meet your goal, when you start getting to the deadline, come back and talk to me calls. This is got to be done. This is important is it, isn’t it? And I’ll just say absolutely important. And I’m yeah, rarely, rarely have to go back to them. I never do. Because other people jumped in line and took that chance for Oh,

Kay  22:02

I love it. Yeah, it’s it’s, you know, because it’s that’s the difference between coming and kind of feeling because I’ve heard people equate fundraising to begging feeling like they were begging and things like that. And I’ve felt that way. And but but if it’s if if we only come to people, when we’re kind of at the end of our rope, and

David  22:24

poverty mindset, yeah, you’re just at the end. I’m not bleeding. I’m not begging. I am bringing you an opportunity to partner with Providence. If you don’t, if you’re not a person of faith, I’ll still take your money. I’m giving you an opportunity to partner with the universe. I don’t care how you see it. This is important. This is massive. It’s awesome. And you know what, I think we probably got a hold of the smallest end of the biggest thing go and come on, join us. I love to Oh, my God, I’d love to have you a part of our team. fundraising,

Kay  23:01

see a lot of people I mean, we all want to be part of a winning team. Yes, we do. So okay, I’m a hockey fan. So the trade deadline went went past and everybody’s you know, and, and one of the big things is, superstar player over here is looking for a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup, because they’ve been over here for six or seven years. And it ain’t happening. Because this team is just not at that point. But they’re seeing their own arc where they’re in maybe the end of their career. Maybe I got one or two seasons left, I need to get over here to this team. And people do that with their money. They go okay, I don’t know. I’m kind of getting in a sinking ship feeling all the time over here. So we don’t want to be I don’t wanna

David  23:49

I don’t want to be on that ship. I don’t want to be on that ship. Give me a ship that pops out on top of the water and skips across the top. Invite me onto that ship. I want one that’s just popping over the top of the water. Yeah, give me that ship. Everybody loves a winner. Yeah, everybody wants to be on a winning team. And so we when when we offer donors that opportunity, I got a team and we are kicking history in it side. And I have a few opportunities here that you could take advantage of. It’s not hard, and people were dying for significance yet we are we’re, it’s part of, I don’t know, we were put here to make a difference. I do believe that. And when someone offers us that opportunity, I don’t turn it down. I don’t turn it down. might not be able to be as large a part as I want to be. But I’m going to be apart. I’m going to be apart. I promise you. I’m going to be on a winning team. We’re going to pretend in front of me. I’m jumping on that thing.


 So we We’ve sat, we’ve we’ve told the story to the donor, we, they are like, get me on that boat that’s skipping across the water because I want to be on the winning team. And they’ve written the check, they handed it to you. You know, wink, wink, and then you get that back. And then you say their two words that can make sure that you’re never run out of money with your mission.

David  25:23

Or those two words. You’ll, if you will live it, maximize it, learn the power of it, there are two words that will change your life, there are two words that you cannot have great relationships without. And those two words are Thank you, Kay. You cannot remain married successfully. without learning the power of Thank you. You cannot raise children that don’t hate your guts. Unless you learn how to maximize the power of Thank you. Thank you is the magic word, thank you. lets people know they’re significant. And they matter and their contributions matter. Saying thank you excellently, will get you all the money that you need.

David  26:21

Now, people hear me say that and they’re like, Oh, my God, if I just go around, I’ll do okay. So I’ll write my donors a thank you every day. Thank you. Thank you. You’ve got to hear what I’m saying. Yeah. saying thank you. Excellently, and saying thank you excellently. Kay, there are so many masterful ways to say thank you. And that’s what we want to become. Just overdose on that. We want to become experts. And that’s what it must often start out to be the thank you guy, but somehow that is now becoming our Thank you. Nobody knows David Oaks. But they’re like that’s thank you guy. Oh, yeah, yeah. But I didn’t start out with that. But it seems to be that’s just, it must be a part of my DNA.

David  27:07

But, you know, I was having a conversation with I was on somebody else’s show. And he was analyzing my superpower. Apparently, there’s a book I haven’t read yet, because it’s called a Big Leap. I haven’t read it yet. But I don’t know if that’s what he was coming from. But he said, uh, David, I was telling him first of all, that when I go to eat in a restaurant, it’s important to make, I don’t know where I got this from, but it matters and it gets me great service, largely, largely. But when I go in, if I always look for the server’s name, if they don’t have it identified, I ask them their name. And I do I know I repeat their name 10 times before I leave. Um, my name is Kay, and I’m your server today. Hi, Kay. Thank you for serving us today. kay, kay, what would you recommend? Okay, what do most people who come in here brag about? Okay, thanks for service, do what would you like to do? Here’s what I want. Okay, what do they, I’m going to call your your name as many times as I can. Now, listen, this is how I view it. And this is the first time I’ve really and I haven’t written or this is brand new, putting it on your show. So now the world’s gonna know. But when I call your name, it’s one of the ways of me acknowledging you and saying, Thank you for being alive. And thank you for occupying my space right now. Just by me calling your name. Now for me, Kay. For me, that’s a way that I can say thank you for being you. Thank you for being Kay now. Where people of faith, study the Scriptures and see how important names are. Everybody. Not everybody, but it was a common thing. When Jesus met people, he just gave him a new name. I do that a lot too. He gave him his little pet names. You know, my name is Peter. No, you’re the rock Hey, rock, come over here. You know. So calling people by their name is and it’s a high, high, high form of saying thank you, not for what you’ve done for me. But for you being you.

David  29:48

Okay, I’m getting intoxicated on that thought. Few people understand the power of that. Go study how to make friends and when you know, they are We know this, but we don’t work on it to maximize it. But saying thank you excellent play. And I remember sharing this on a on one of our you and I work together with Mary Valloni on on a team meeting that we were in, I remember her saying, I got a card today and yesterday and then I got another card today, it almost feels like, you know, as Lego too. Can you go too far? You can’t go too far in saying thank you excellently. Can I stalk you? Well, goodness gracious, yes. I don’t call that saying thank you. But there are systems and strategies that we can learn that maximize the power of thank you and I often talk about, and it’s one of the main things that I teach is, what do you do when someone gives to your organization for the first time, and I just had a missionary because I was I was on a show with Mary Valloni. You and I both were just the other day. So I’m getting responses from missionaries all over the world. And they’re saying, how often should I write my daughter’s and say, Thank you, should I write a personal note every month? And I just said, You know, I don’t think they’re expecting that. But choose special moments, when someone does gives a gift to you for the first time. Are you kidding me?

David  31:25

Again, go study first things in the scripture where people have faith, every time something was done for the first time. Go study that thing. There’s some principles there that you can learn. It’s called the principles of first things and scriptures. So anyway, you don’t want to write them every day. And I’m sure that if that would work, missionaries that just do that. And they’d be fully funded, but fun, strategic opportunity to say thank you excellently. My kids had, Joe operates children, when they did their chores, I didn’t every single day, say thank you and write them a thank you note, thank you for doing your chores. I did find some strategic times to pull them aside for things that they had to do. They were their responsibility and their chore. And I said, Here, you clean your room, you do this, you do that you take out the garbage you here’s what you do in the yard and pine cones is a big deal down here in the south. You gave in mo hit wall for pine cones everywhere, here to do and I just want to say, you do it without me asking you. You also do a good job. You make me feel great. I’m proud. I just want to say I notice it. Thank you. And I think a lot of pastors think pastors are the worst K, I can talk about them because I’ve been one all my life. pastors are the worst people at recognizing financial contributions because, well, you know, money, God, I let the deacons do that. You’re hurting yourself. You’re passing up an awesome opportunity to strengthen some relationships with people who have spiritual gifts giving to spiritual gifts, according to Scripture says that, yeah, you’re you’re passing up a wonderful opportunity to interact people with spirits, right to get your passing up an opportunity to maximize a relationship that could prove to be strategic, if I can tell you the truth. You’re passing up these opportunities. And also years ago, John Maxwell, I remember, this is one of my first eye opening experiences. I used to go wherever John Maxwell was he was a pastor in San Diego. And he just said, If you don’t, if you are not a key player and funding the vision pastor, you don’t have the right to direct and to write that vision. Pastors all day long, go to churches and say, here’s what we’re gonna do. And the deacon boards are like, No, we’re not. No, we’re not. I want to tell you who gets to set the vision, whoever funds it. And John Maxwell said, I go out and I’ll meet with 10 donors and finance what I want to do, then I go to the deacon boards, tell him what I don’t want to do. And they’ll say, that’s gonna cost too much money. And he said, then I say, I’ve already got the money for it. Then what do they say? They shut their mouth.

David  34:30

So pastors are that worst at fundraising pastors? Don’t say thank you. Excellently. Does it mean stalking people? No. It just means finding ways, instituting systems, just learning to say thank you and it goes all the way back to I consider calling person a person by their name. Consider that one of the single highest forms of saying thank you on this earth. I do believe that and I try to practice it. That was a lot of hot air a soul popped and I can’t hide. You need to close out the podcast is okay, I’m just full on. Did you start talking about fundraising? Thank you and it being fun and relationships. I can’t stop. I can’t. I can’t hush Forgive me, please.


That’s That’s why  I wanted to have you on. This will be the easiest interview I’ve ever done. I’ll just throw one question out there.

David  35:35

I’ll talk for 20 minutes, and you’ll say will he ever hush?


This is awesome. And it’s good stuff. I you know, when you talk about saying people’s names, and I think about the number of letters and thank yous even that I’ve gotten addressed to dear donor,

David  35:57

oh, my God,

Kay  35:58

or dear friend,

David  35:59

I got a form letter that was all written out and copied, one spot was left blank, and it was dear. And there was a spot there. And the precious nonprofit person wrote in with an ink pen, David, so I get we used to call it mimeograph. Copy the letter that was just made for everybody. I don’t know whether he did it. I don’t know whether he just got a teenager to say, I’ll give you $5 if you’ll take all of these letters, here’s a list of names. Right, David? Sam, Mark. I don’t know, just chumped it in the garbage. And did not give, because it didn’t call me by name.

Kay  36:48

Yeah, and there are systems that will do that for us. And, and you know, we get we get busy. We get or we’re not maybe tech savvy. But that’s a great opportunity to pull somebody into your ministry for 10 minutes to set that up for you. You know,

David  37:07

the money yeah, in the budget and pay someone to set up. If you don’t know how to do it. It’s worth paying someone. And it used to be Word documents, it was a mail merge. I don’t know that the new things do add on No, today, but you can do a mail merge, you can, I don’t know what it’s called, and all of the and MailChimp and all of this CRM, but it’s too easy for it to be done for you not to use, it’s kind of a low bar now. So


if you’re not personalizing

David  37:44

either you do or salon, you can do no one a greater honor than to call them by name. And when you don’t, you’ve hurt yourself, yeah, you’ve hurt yourself and you are hurting yourself. And then the work that you were put here on this earth to do, it doesn’t get done. And you know, I’ve worked in church all my life. And the old timers used to say, you know, if you don’t get if you don’t do what God’s called you to do, he’ll just raise up somebody else to do it. I found that not to be true. If you don’t do what you were put here ordained by God to do if you don’t do what you’re put here to do, here’s what I found. It doesn’t get done. It doesn’t get done. Because there’s only one of you. And only you can do what you’re put here and so gifted to do everything you’ve been put here to do. You got the gifts. They’re in there. Yes, they are. Yeah, they’re there. Yeah. Yeah. So

Kay  38:47

we’re developing, you know, one of those things is, is doing those little things that we know to do. And like I said, we were talking before we hit record that, you know, there are those things, we all have things that we know we’re supposed to do, and then we do them. But what what is one small thing somebody can put into practice today, to get those thank yous out it just if they could just change one thing, and that one thing was going to be to make sure I’m thinking people excellently, what’s that first step they could take now.

David  39:22

you know, I make a big deal out of that first gift. So just make it a law. for you as a missionary for you in an organization. This can even be practice in business. You’re not going to write a thank you note to every customer you have, but I can tell you that likely 80% of your income is coming from 20% of your customers. You ought to know those people by name. So anyway, number one, make it a rule. We call this a system right when someone gives for the first time It’s always acknowledged in special ways. And that can be with you, given a phone call you sending a text, you having an interaction with that donor, it can be with you involving your board. Your you have a fundraising team, get a couple or three people who, who will help you. And then teach them how to write that note, the note artist say I serve on the boat board, I serve on a team with Kay Helm, and she was bragging on you today. Welcome to the Welcome to the giving community, we’re a close family and having you here makes it special, I can’t wait to get to know you more.

David  40:49

So celebrate a first gift. That’s a, celebrate it now whatever that means to you do it, just do it. And then I don’t know, mark it on your calendar one year out, put a task on your CRM, put it on your Google Calendar, put it on somehow in one year. But a task that pops up and tell you one year ago, David oaks gave his first gift and then spend the time to work on that letter, send me a letter and say David Harvey hard to believe it was one year ago, you gave your first gift, happy birthday dude. And then maybe give me a story since the time you gave your first gift. And the last year, here’s how many people you touched. Here’s what you accomplished. Here’s why you’re giving matters my crazy. And having you come on board meant the world to us. And that’s why you know, we went nuts. But that’s two things that you could do as a first time donor and then mark it one year out. Those are two dates that you can make special. I don’t know, those are two easy things to do. Maybe they gave that first time and they didn’t give again.

David  42:25

Only 19 out of 100 donors to nonprofits here in this country ever give a second gift. One year is not too late for me to get that letter from you to treat me like I was amazing. And for you to brag on my generosity. You know what I might do in a year? If I haven’t done it, you might get my second gift in one year, after you got my first one. And you know what if someone else is studies tell us this is science K, studies tell us that if you can get me to give that second gift, the chances are through the roof, that I’ll give a third or fourth and that I will even include you in must state plan for the big dollars are if you can get that second gift. So there’s two practical things to practical ways that you can do immediately. If I have a download that you can give to the people who listen to your show from me, and it’s my most downloaded asset. And all it is I don’t say all it is I’ve put some some hot air in there for me. But it’s just copies of some notes that I’ve written. Yeah. So it’s good


because I’ve been to your website and I’ve downloaded

David  43:51

your people that are listening. I’m gonna tell you, Marissa Nelson had Nielson Nelson had me on her show. And she’s like, you know, the financial guru. She hasn’t. She’s not a nonprofit. She actually does have a nonprofit, but that’s not what she’s that’s not that’s how she hung out. But Maria says, like, David, I took your stuff. And I went right to my team. And I said, she said Do you know that my people have to sign up and study your stuff now? It’s part of working for her so I’m like, Oh my goodness. So this is helpful. Just knowing I don’t know I I’ve collected again, I don’t know why it mattered to me, but it did. But I have a file over there in my cabinet. Where I keep thank yous that mean something to me. I don’t know. You send me a thank you and it moved my heart. You know, tell me the hardest thing for me to do is to throw that thing away. I save them. Now you send me Thank you The didn’t touch my heart. Okay, thank you. And it’s right in the garbage. But I’ve collected great thank you notes. And I’ve sort of studied, why does one impact me and the other one does not. So that download, I do give some strategic corners and how to make your thank you more effective. And you want to give the kind of note that your donor, make it hard for people to throw your notes away, I’m telling you make them feel guilty like crazy for throwing your cards away, give them something that moves them. So I’ll give you that link, and you can offer it to the listeners of your show. I love for them to have it and I get people responded to me because of that one free thing that I give away, I get more response from that, than any other thing that I’ve put out there is just writing a great thank you note. And it’s not just nonprofits. As I said, business people have grabbed it. And for that, you know, your 8020 rule for those that top 20%. If there’s any customers, you don’t want to lose, it’s the 20% of people that bring in 80% of your revenue. And for missionaries. And for nonprofits. Usually the Pareto principle that 8020 rule is, is usually it’s still true. There, you got your top 20%, you want to make sure you write great notes you want to notice you want to catch them doing good. And make sure you notice them and call them by name. Yeah, gift,

Kay  46:48

you know, in that one year letter that one year, thank you that you just talked about one of the things that you did when because you you just spoke out kind of a text that you might use in that letter. And and this is another reason you need to grab this download from David is,

Kay  47:07

is he does this, you do this, you kind of naturally do it. And I teach it to people all the time, is now what you’ve done, instead of sending them a letter and saying, dear donor, thank you for your gift of blah, blah, blah, blah, yeah, here’s what we did. You’ve your instead, you’re including them, you’re you’re saying your gift, and I don’t care if it was $5 or $5


I can

Kay  47:39

accomplish this thing. You’re $5 fed children. I mean, I used to do this $5 can go a long way. And and it’s it’s important, and you are a part of it. And it’s including the people in the story. And so always tell us get that get the we’re doing this, I’m doing this, kind of get that language out of the letter and make it all about that donor. And one of the

David  48:05

things that yes, I’ve taught was taught to me and it just revolutionized my, my, my letters, after you write your letter printed out, and then set it on the table in front of you and take a red little red marker. And everywhere you’ve got I circle it. Everywhere you have, we circle it there where you have us circle, everywhere you have the name of your organization, circle it, then just on your word processor, it won’t make sense. But everywhere you’ve got I put you print it out and then make it rearrange that sentence and make it fit instead of because of you know thank you for your money with your money. We preached we ministered we fed we housed we educated take we out with this gift. You fed homeless people. Thank you for your gift. You educated you brought girls out of the six, six trade my god and if you can give them some another thing a teaches to give people a problem, they can solve it if you can give them some piece of the puzzle that they actually did with that amount of money. It helps them to see a clearer picture of what they did. Let’s just say with my organization, I can feed the homeless and it cost me 99 cents per meal. Then, if I can help you to see that every 99 sense that a male What do I feel like when I give $5 per day? Good? Yeah, that is made of motivates me to want to give 100 how many people in feeding this is awesome. So if you help them to see this calculate some sense of, you know, we help 1000 kids come out of the industry and a year’s time and we estimate the cost to be, give them something that is small enough that they can say, ah, did that, if you say there’s a million homeless on the streets of our city? And could you just give some small thing to help us? That’s a problem I cannot solve. It’s overwhelming fix that. Let me buy a meal. Let me pay for a class. Let me if you’re buying, I don’t know.

David  51:06

Give me some piece of the puzzle that I can personally accomplish. And give me the good feelings that come with accomplishing that, I’m more likely to give even larger, and sometimes organizations, they don’t want to do that. Because they’re like, I don’t, if I tell them, it only cost us $99.99. To feed someone a male, they’re liable to give less. Actually, it has the opposite effect. It makes them want to do more. So somehow find a way to calculate a part of the problem that you solve, and allow the donor the opportunity to totally fix it. Give me a 99 cent meal. I’m leveled, feed your people for a month. I mean, I might have the capacity to do that. And if I do, I’ll be motivated to do it. That’s a big deal. So that’s a big deal.


Yeah, that’s good. That’s huge.

David  52:09

Wow, let’s just get out of here and go raise some money for some amazing.


Yeah. Yeah,

David  52:16

I’m like, what are we doing sit here we can be out. Changing the world right now.

Kay  52:23

Exactly. Well, we’ll have to have you back and talk some more. We’ll go into more details on things but really do that. Check the show notes. I’ll have the download there. We’ll we’ll get you connected with David. David real quick, though. How what’s the best way that people can connect with you?

David  52:39

You know what the easiest way right now is becoming Instagram. I never did social media before, but I kinda, I mean, I’m doing Instagram. I’m trying to document what I do just because it’s like, how do you how do you create stuff to put on social media? Oh, my God, I’m tired even thinking about that. I’m just every day I’m just gonna give you a snippet of something I’m doing in my day. I’m on Instagram. Now. You can also find me on Facebook. And if you connect with me there, I do check Facebook. And you can even connect with me there on messenger. You can find me on LinkedIn To be honest, I forget to even go there and check it for weeks at a time but Instagram and Facebook are probably the easiest way to connect with me. You want to get some downloads then you can go to my website, it’s w s that’s short for a world stage. I just what I called my company when I started, you can go there. But anyway, you can start on Instagram, you can find out what I’m doing I’m always putting it on there and I think that’s the that’s what I’m telling people who just go to find me on Instagram


 We’ll have the links in the show notes so people can can pick that up really easily and connect.


Well there you have it as promised, all of the show notes will be at life and forward slash six three because this is Episode 63 so life and mission comm forward slash six, three. do connect with David get his download his thank you note swipe file to get you started on how to write really nice, effective and just beautiful. thank you notes. I mean, they don’t have to be really extravagant, but they do have to be excellent. We will be back next two weeks from now with a new episode where every two weeks we have a new episode out and follow on life and mission on Instagram On Facebook. And we’re doing things during the week there with community on Facebook and love to have you join the conversation. What have you found that that really helps to build relationships with donors. What do you, as a donor like, when nonprofits and ministries are talking to you about the missions? What are we missing? What are we not telling you in our stories? We want to hear that, too. So So jump into that conversation over the life and mission community. And one other thing I will ask you to do, somebody you know, needs to hear this. Somebody you know, needs to hear what David has to say in this episode, would you share it with them? Most of your podcast apps have a little Share button. You just push that and it’ll send that link right on over to text message to your buddies. I would really appreciate it. David would really appreciate it and most of all, your friend is gonna really thank you. This has been the Life and Mission Podcast. I’m Kay Helm, Find your voice. Tell your story. Change the world.

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About David

David Oaks believes raising money for your nonprofit is not about asking people for money, it is about inviting them into a quality relationship. This quality relationship consisting of minor touches results in major gifts. This minor touch, major gift approach has made him a sought after consultant, online educator and thought leader. Before running his own business, David was a successful Christian pastor who maximized relationship and organizational growth strategies to build large organizations. Nowadays you’ll find him coaching nonprofit leaders, leading capital campaigns and making new friends on the international stage – all while mentoring young men and women at home and abroad through his own nonprofit, Bethlehem International School Foundation.

Instagram: @davidLoaks12
Twitter: @davidoaks

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I help missionaries and organizations tell powerful and effective stories so they can be fully funded. Find out more at

Telling Stories Well, with Chris Staron

Telling Stories Well, with Chris Staron

Chris Staron is an award-winning filmmaker, an author, comedian, and podcaster. As host of the Truce Podcast, Chris uses journalistic tools to provide history and context to better understand the Christian church today. He gives us an inside look into his storytelling process, and why the stories we tell are so important.

Chris Staron Ep 60

Kay 0:00
Welcome to Episode 60 of the Life and Mission podcast. My name is Kay Helm. And today My guest is Chris Staron, host of the Truce Podcast. Chris is an exceptional storyteller, and we’re going to talk about why he does what he does and how he does what he does.

Kay 0:21
My guest today is Chris Staron, an award winning filmmaker, author, comedian, and podcaster. His heart is for people who are on the outside edges of popular Christianity. Hi, Chris, how you doing?

Chris 0:33
All right, Kay. Yourself?

Unknown Speaker 0:35
Wonderful. It’s a nice sunny day here in Virginia.

Chris 0:38
Well, it’s it’s a nice clear day here in Wyoming.

Kay 0:41
Want to get started? We would love to hear a little about you. I know that obviously, you’re a storyteller. But tell us a little more.

Chris 0:49
Yeah, so I’m an identical twins. So you’ll sometimes hear me refer to myself as we, because my brother and I end up doing things all the time. And I just lump it all together, because I’m always with him. That’s cool. Like, really great guy. And yeah, so I produced Ron directed and produced two feature length films, two DVDs of shorts, one of which was animated, one of which was live action. I wrote Christian novels. And I’ve now I’m doing this podcast called truce, which is a history show, about how the Christian Church has interacted with the world and how history impacts us and how we impact history. So I’m just wrapping up a series about how the rise of communism in Russia impacted the American Christian church, which sounds like a snooze fest, but actually is really fascinating when you get into it all the ways that modern Christianity and in the United States has come out of our fear of communism. And when I’m not doing that, I also have, I have to sell fund all of those things.

So I almost have always had a second job. And so now I am a school bus driver as well, to help finance the podcast. It’s obviously a passion of yours. I don’t think I could stop if I wanted to, as far as truus. Because there’s, every time I think I’m done with a story, there’s there’s like four other stories behind that, like, it inspires for more stories. And so I just keep going and going and going, Oh, man. Yeah, that’s how it works. Yeah. And even I, I had scheduled out how I was going to end season three, which is about communism, and I now have over a year’s worth of topics coming up already listed out. So it’s like, yep, I guess I’m gonna keep doing this for a while. Wow. Yeah, storytelling is obviously a big part of who you are, is, yeah, well, I find that it helps me understand how we work as people, which is really important if you have a sort of missions heart and your desire to see people grow in the Lord. But it’s also important if you want to understand this kind of wacky time that we’re in right now. how we got to where we are, and how we can do better. And it helps if you can understand why we are the way we are and those steps that came in. So I found myself a lot in. I was teaching high school boy, Sunday school, I was involved in adult ministries and stuff, constantly explaining things to folks. And they’re like, yeah, nobody’s ever told me about the curse of Ham or something like that. And I’m like, what, how am I the only person you know, who knows about this? And I’m,

Chris 3:25
I’m medium intelligence. But I can be a real Dumb Dumb about a lot of stuff. And so it’s been a joy for me to learn these things. And they come back and teach them and it’s like, oh, I guess maybe I should do a podcast, taking those stories and and trying to tell them to people.

Kay 3:42
And this stories, even those stories, like you said that we don’t really think about a lot you gave the example of the curse of Ham. Yeah. So a little story about when we first started the nonprofit that I’m a part of. And so this would be 2006. And I became the leader of this organization that was taking care of education for some kids in Uganda. And Sara, the woman in charge of that program there. She said, I have one question for you. And this was her question to see if she wanted to work with me. And she said, What do you believe about the curse of Ham?

Chris 4:19
Yeah, and hopefully you said it doesn’t exist.

Kay 3:42
Exactly. And God is good. He had prepared me for this. He did actually He’d really drawn me into that whole story and I had studied it and that’s exactly what my response was. It does not exist. Ham was never cursed. In fact, he was blessed! Canaan was the one cursed. Yeah, that was gonna impact everything that we did. What she was really asking is Do you believe that we are cursed?

Kay 4:48
You know, when somebody has to ask you that. It’s really a wake up moment.

Chris 4:52
It is it’s it’s sad. But for those of those listening who don’t know what the curse of Ham is, when Noah goes through the whole flood and the flood recedes. And they go on to dry land. He has three sons, one of which is named Ham. And there’s that whole weird story that everybody skips over in the Bible about him being covered up with his nakedness and then placing a curse. And he’s like, we’ll just skip that we don’t know what that’s about. It’s actually a very important story, not just in the Bible, but also in real life. So Noah gets up and he curses somebody and says, Your people will be the servants of your brothers. And so then those sons of Noah go in different directions. And Ham is not cursed, his I think it’s his son, Canaan that’s cursed. And so Canaan ends up being cursed, which is why later in the Bible, the Canaanites are the ones who are killed when the people of Israel come back into Israel, right? everybody’s like, Well, why did that happen? It’s because of the curse of Canaan.

But what got turned into was people pretended, because it’s not in the text. It’s not there in the text that Ham was cursed. But people pretended that Ham was cursed. And therefore, Ham went down to Africa, and he his people, became Africans, who would then quote, you know, as the theory would go, would then become the servant of all people. And so it was a justification for slavery, especially in the United States, was the story that was, quote unquote, biblical, but is actually not in the Bible and goes a completely different direction if you read the text. So I ended up doing several stories about this and untruths and I, every time I thought I was done, it would come back. I’m like, Okay, fine. We’ll talk about the curse of Ham again.

It’s one of those little weird stories in the Bible that has a tremendous amount of impact, and apparently is still felt today that it has so many repercussions when that one little twist of God’s Word. And I think it really demonstrates a lot. And one of my desires in life is always to say, read the Bible, like yes, and read it for yourself. And it’s great to get good teaching and stuff, but always read before the story, read after the story, actually read the whole thing, read the whole Bible, because there’s all sorts of stuff like this, that we get taught in popular Christianity that is just not there. It’s a real shame that something is so easily disproven comes up time and time and time again.

Yeah, and it drives just some really important bad behavior. It really does. It’s just it’s done a lot of harm and and that’s what happens, right? I mean, it’s it was the original lie in the garden with the snake asked that question and Eve twisted what God had said, just a little bit, just a little bit off. Did God really say this, that Yeah. Are you find Satan in the New Testament talking to Jesus as being tempted? Did you through using the scripture out of context to try to back his positions? It happens, it really does. So it’s one of those things that I found myself actually telling the curse of Ham over and over again, before I started the podcast. And I was like, okay, fine, I guess I need to talk about this on the show.

Chris 8:07
Because we, there’s so much freedom and getting around those things and understanding what’s going on and where our little hang ups come from. And if you can understand the history behind it, you can make a much more informed decision, and I think be much better equipped in your ministry. The truth is, is so true, and and, you know, when we have these things that we’ve kind of just heard and absorbed, all our lives, there’s doctrine, but then there’s culture.

Kay 8:41
And we call it doctrine. Sometimes we sometimes we will say we justify our culture, by our doctrine when it’s actually not. Or it may even be contrary to the actual doctrine, but we won’t examine is close enough.

Chris 8:56
When if you want proof of that, just go into the Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus is saying, you know, love your enemy has turned the other cheek and how many of us in that church we hear our pastors actually not saying turn the other cheek, but get what’s yours.

Chris 9:12
And it’s all over Christian media and culture, that you’re supposed to thrive and all that kind of stuff. But when Jesus is constantly saying, No, no, give give your brother your cloak. Get give your stuff away. If you want even want a subversive message, just just read the Bible for yourself read read the books about Jesus and probably be surprised.

Kay 9:33
Yes, yes. Yeah, sticking with what he actually says and does is, I think the best policy but not always the easiest way for you.

Chris 9:43
Of course not. I mean, especially turn the other cheek and we, anytime I’m wrong, I get really angry and you know, I drive a school bus. I am constantly in traffic with people doing ridiculous things because nobody wants to be behind a school bus. Right and the things that people do to get around a school bus unbelievable. So it’s been a constant challenge for me just to try to love people from the bus.

Kay 10:07
Wow, love people from the bus. That sounds like a great book, does it? Yeah.

Chris 10:15
I’ve got too many things to do something else to do now, I don’t know.

Kay 10:21
Well, on this show on this podcast, we say find your voice, tell your story, change the world. And one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on is that in your podcast, we’ve talked a little bit about the subject matter. And I do want to come back to talking about expectations, kind of in Christian media, there’s almost a formulaic thing that we expect, and what you don’t really do. And that’s one of the reasons that I love your show.

Chris: Oh, praise God.

But the other reason is that your podcast is really more produced than the average podcast mean, my show I have a guest on, we just have a conversation, and I record it. And so that’s a really simple production process. still a lot of work. It is but not nearly what in what you do.

And so if you’ve never heard the Truce podcast, what Chris does his he crafts, these stories, I mean, you you do research, and then you might have other people come do voiceovers and play parts, as you kind of recreate some things you may I’ve seen heard you use recordings of actual historical things. Yeah, you bring all in a sound effects and some music. I mean, it’s really highly produced and done with excellence, too. And you could just sit down and riff on these topics, right? You could search and just sit down and talk about it. But how did you make that decision to produce truce the way that you do?

Chris 11:53
Yeah, well, I have done some episodes that are just interviews. And I’m totally fine with that when it’s appropriate. That part of the hard thing in the market that we’re in is that we’re not used to getting context. It’s usually, you know, this is good, this is bad. follow what’s good, don’t do this. But you don’t often find context in the Christian media, or in media in general. And so part of that is I don’t want to put people to sleep if I’m talking about the Ad Council, which is actually a profoundly important organization in the United States and in the world. But none of us know who they are, except Oh, well, they created Smokey Bear, or mcgruff, the crime dog. But the goal is always to be like, I need you to be interested long enough that you understand why this thing is important. And so as part of a storyteller, the goal is always to find a way to make it interesting.

Chris 12:45
I think it was Albert Einstein, I may, I may be misquoting this completely, but said that basically, anybody, any average person can understand pretty much anything as long as they have a good teacher. I really do believe that it’s true that most any topic can be explained to a person of average intelligence, if they just have somebody who’s willing to explain it to them well. And so my goal is always to take this information and a story that generally I think is very exciting, and make it interesting to other people. Like I even did a little bit about the importance of shipping containers.

Kay 13:20
I heard that one.

Chris 13:21
Yeah. And we don’t think of them as being really important, but they’re super important. And they played this huge role in history and in the way that our economics work in this country. So I had to devise a way to make people get interested in shipping containers.

Kay 13:36
Wow. Yeah. The thoughts that run through my head when I’m listening to the truce podcast are things like, wow, I never thought of that, or I never saw it that way. Those are constant. That’s my response all the time.

Chris 13:52
Yeah. That’s the hope. And that’s, I mean, it’s a tough way to go. In the Christian market, especially I find that people search for topics that they’re interested in, they don’t really want to be surprised by Oh, wow, this is really interesting. We’re just not used to that. And so that’s one of the battles I’ve been facing, as I titled an episode, the Ad Council, the CIA and Christian America, it’s like when people may not want to listen to that. It might not be interesting, or the American coup in Guatemala, a very important episode, one of my favorites, but it’s hard to get people interested if that’s not what they’re already looking for. But the shows that I love the most are the ones that you walk away, like, I had no idea that the shipping container was so important, you know, or that 10 commandments, monuments haven’t been around forever. I’d like a sense of wonder. I just think it’s such a vital way to learn, you know, you continue to learn you got your masters and stuff. You know how important it is as an adult to continue to learn things. And wonder is a great way to do that. To keep people focused. Learning.

Kay 14:54
Yeah, that’s good. You know, like we say, storytelling, it’s that you have developed these skills. Have storytelling, you’re going through a lot of work to produce something to hold our interest.

Chris 15:06

Kay 15:06
What’s the process for you to produce a typical episode?

Chris 15:11
Yeah, well, I generally come up with the idea months and months and months in advance. So I’ve just got lists of, of ideas, and I try to order them in a spreadsheet. So I get kind of an idea of a logical progression of this leads to that, that leads to that, that leads to that, which can be confusing for the audience, because they’ll see me covering things like the New Deal. And they’ll be like, Why in the world? Would you talk about the New Deal? Well, in three or four episodes, it’s gonna like start featuring and every single thing we talk about, so you really need to understand what it is, or why did we talk about Russia for like six episodes, what’s because I don’t want you to just judge those people and be like, those ridiculous Russians fell into communism, and there’s no logic to how they got there. It’s faulty logic. But there is logic. And so it helps us have compassion to see like, Oh, this is how they got there. These are the circumstances and things.

And so I’m always kind of looking for a progression in stories so that they try to build on each other. And so once I’ve gotten that, I just start reading books and listening to podcasts and watching documentaries, get some ideas. And oftentimes, it’s too much to give people a lot of what things to walk away with. So I’m trying to generally start the episode with the takeaway, then I work through the story. And about halfway through you reencounter, the thing we talked at the beginning that you thought had nothing to do with the show, at the topic at all, yeah, that comes that comes back up. And then I kind of end with that same takeaway idea. So that during countering that a few different times, and a lot of times I’m interviewing experts in the field who aren’t may not even be Christians. And then that, to me is really fascinating and has been exciting, it does impact the download numbers, because a lot of people go like, Oh, you know, my favorite Christian celebrity is on this podcast, I’m gonna go listen to it, you don’t get that on my show very.

Chris 19:18
There was an episode I released over Thanksgiving that I released two weeks early, and I had to write the audience like I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing to put in its place in two weeks. Let’s just pretend this is coming out when it’s supposed this because you know it’s funny because even a simple podcast has a lot of backend stuff that nobody knows about. That’s right writing the show notes and uploading it and making graphics and those kinds of things building your website. And so that all that other stuff goes in and I make mistakes, but I i it gives me a lot of hope. I’m so excited for the day that God willing, I can have a staff that would be so great to be able to say you go research this thing. That would be the greatest but I’m kind of a long ways away from that right now.

Kay 20:02
I for one will be cheering you on. Because I think of truce. I mean, so if you haven’t heard Truce, and I know I’ve tried to describe it, but if you have heard like an NPR podcast, you know, the way they produce things BBC kind of does the same. The there. I mean, there’s so like, they have a whole newsroom doing that. So you’re doing that solo? Right?

Chris 20:26
Yeah. Yeah. So they’re gonna, you know, that’s why the show comes out only every two weeks. And there are some times where I have to have an interview with somebody. I just had an interview with Skye Jethani that came out and I have a few coming up to try and buy myself time. Yeah, yeah, the nice thing about him is he just let him go.

Chris 20:43
I didn’t have to be brilliant. He just kind of went and it was great. So it was actually kind of easy. But I do kind of buffer sometimes when I need to buy time. And I’ll have to replace them episodes coming up, as well to buy myself some time, because it does take a tremendous amount of time for me to make these episodes. It’s hard for me not to do a story in this manner. Because I really love the shows I love to listen to are generally told in this sort of public radio style. And I find them to be really engaging. And it’s something that not many people are doing in the Christian market. So there’s kind of this, this great opportunity to fill that need.

Kay 21:20
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What you just mentioned the Christian market. And before we started recording, we talked we were talking a little bit about there are all these expectations. There’s kind of when you say, Christian radio, christian movie, Christian TV, right. There’s a there’s a particular type of program that comes to mind.

Chris 21:45
Yeah, yeah, for each of those. Yeah. And they’re all kind of run by different folks. And the top thing, I did some episodes on this in season two on the Christian film market, and why it is the way it is. And once you kind of understand the back end, the front end makes total sense.

For the Christian film world specifically. What’s interesting about it is that it is very underfunded, and it has been underfunded basically forever. All of its existence, even though some of them the very first films ever made at all moving pictures were Christian films, going back to the Lumiere brothers, but they’ve always been underfunded. So part of the problem is how do I make money on this underfunded thing? And movies? Unlike podcasts, a movie is incredibly expensive. No matter what level you make it at. You can’t make a cheap film that looks good. And right or sounds good. So how do you pay that back?

Chris 22:38
And the trouble is that in the Christian market, especially now in the world of streaming, it’s really really hard to make money because like Amazon Prime, which my films run, we get six cents per hour watched. So if somebody watches my films all the way through, I get nine cents. Wow. Which is terrible. You can’t do anything with Wow, do the math and do the math and figure out how many views it would take me to make a one day living wage. And also remember, I had to split that again, across me and my brother. It would be an insane number, like every single person in my state would have to watch the film for me.

Kay: All right, people get on it.

Well, yeah, or to send me 10 cents. So you got that issue, especially now. But in the DVD world back when no Hollywood video or blockbuster were going, I think it was Hollywood video paid you per download hour per viewing when somebody would take the DVD out of the store. Got basically $1 it was a little less than that. But we’ll just say it was $1. And so here we are 20 years later, and we’re getting nine cents.

Kay: Wow.

Despite all the inflation and the growth. So the market is changing to where are the people who are actually paying money because the streaming, we can’t make the money on streaming. So the money is made in rentals. And it was before but now it is becoming more important. Well, it was before COVID Yeah, but the problem with theater rentals is you need a film that will grab bull T and get them in the seats. So I can’t remember the one that was about Abby Johnson and oh, unplanned that one was about a pro life movie that came out like two or three years ago, that one got butts in the seats, because it was a pro life film, and it wasn’t getting get mainstream stuff. And Fox news was pushing it pretty hard as well. It still did really poorly compared to a normal film, you know, like a Hollywood film. But that kind of sensationalism got it out there. Because it was controversial. They could get the butts in the seats, and they could pay for the thing.

If you get a film that’s just a nice romantic comedy or something, it’s much harder to market. So they’re almost there is a there’s a temptation to build something that is going to make people angry, so that they will show up. Or the other thing is that you’re seeing a lot more building on existing properties. So they’ll take an existing book or a movie or song even and they’ll make a whole movie based on that existing property. So by

Chris 25:00
So that that person’s existing audience will come in and support it. And that sounds like it’s really benign, but it actually is to a creative market. It is kind of a death knell. Because if you’re being incentivized to only tell stories based on a true story, you’re seeing the end of creative stories, original thought. And so yeah, I can go on and on about that. But like the Christian book world is written in a very similar way, it operates off of who is buying stuff. And the people who buy books are generally people who want to be angry, or you’re looking at very conservative people, or very charismatic people. Those are your markets.

If you’re not angry, charismatic, or conservative, and exactly like they want, people aren’t buying the book, so you won’t find a publisher. And and that’s, that’s just sort of the realities of the market. If we wanted to change things, as consumers, we would support the people who are making different materials. But those people are often lower budget. Yeah, because they don’t have the big publishing houses and things behind them.

Kay 26:03
Yeah. So that we there’s, you know, at the same time, all that’s happening, we got self publishing, is exploding, but then that’s kind of like, you never really know what you’re going to get.

Chris 26:12
Yeah, you don’t Yeah, and yeah, there’s a there’s a beauty of the gatekeepers is they kind of thinned the hurt a little bit. Now anybody can get out there. But it also, as an author, having done this myself, part of the problem is that I not only have to be a good writer, and I’m okay. I also have to be a really good graphic designer for the cover. And I have to be a really great proofreader. Because I’ve got nobody overseeing the the, there’s no editorial staff looking at this stuff to it is yeah, and then then you also have to be amazing at marketing your book, which you know, you can’t be amazing at all those things. It was kind of the same in the Christian film world. Like I could be a pretty good writer, director, but I’m a terrible marketer.

Chris 26:57
Because I feel like marketing is sleazy. I just don’t like doing it. And I shouldn’t say all marketers is sleazy. That does, that’s not what I meant to say, but I feel sleazy doing it. But we as like independent creators are called on to be all those things, and we’re not going to be able to be all of them. Well,

Kay 27:14
yeah, you can’t wear all the hats. You don’t get that one thing if we could work in our gifts and bring the people around. And of course, bringing people around to be a part of your project often requires a budget.

Chris 27:29
It does. Yeah, cuz we got to eat, you know,

Kay 27:31

Chris 27:34
You know, people have contacted me about being a part of their shows, but I can’t, I can’t take on yet another. I have three jobs right now. I can’t take on another one. So

Kay 27:44
yeah, we talked a little bit about the expectations of the Christian market and the content that you explore on truce and the way that you give context to things that we don’t always think all the way through that really affect our Christian culture. Yeah. And and then you’re talking about the gatekeepers, and all these different influences that affect who we’re hearing and, and you touched on something I want to go back to where you said, you have to be angry, to get your book published, or your piece out there. When I first started working in the nonprofit world. I had subscribed to a magazine, I don’t know if anybody remembers print magazines, but magazine on fundraising. And there’s this one episode, this one episode, see, this one issue of this magazine that came in in the cover was about how to raise funds from religious people.

Kay 28:42
And by religious they really meant Christian, it was pretty obvious. And they said that the way to raise money was polarize the issue and to push people toward whatever end, and that that’s how you would motivate them to part with their money. And it and like you were talking about marketing, feeling sleazy. That felt really sleazy. I thought, Oh, my gosh, that’s not like, that’s not what we are called to as Christians is not to go be polarized and angry all the time. And all of these these things, and I really grieved that.

Chris 29:21
Yeah. Yeah, I do, too.

Chris 30:00
Our greatest inhibitors for sharing the gospel right now is that we’re so focused on creating an enemy. What I like to say is those people, if those people didn’t exist, then this whole country would be great, and the church would be wonderful. And that’s not true. The reality is that Jesus died for us, and then died for them as well. So I had a guest on a few years ago, who said, even if you believe that Muslims are your enemy, Jesus commanded you to love your enemy. So there’s no way that you can get out of saying, Oh, well, I don’t have to pay attention to those people. I don’t have to share the gospel.

There’s no secret door, there’s no loophole out of this. You are to love all of the people. And you are to share the gospel to all nations, regardless of who you think those people are. Fact I would say, be if you have those people in your life, maybe that’s who you need to be focusing on. Maybe that’s who God has called you to minister to? I don’t know. I’ll get off that soapbox. But I think that’s, that’s really valuable in this time, when so many people, I’m not a great evangelist, I’m actually pretty bad at it. But I try. And when I do end up talking to non Christians, a lot of the times it ends up coming around to politics and economics and those kinds of things and not having to do with Jesus at all.

My goal is generally to be exception to what they think a Christian is, because they think of Christians as being these bullies and these jerks. And if I can be the exception and be like, No, I’m, I’m a human being. I’m a flawed human being, by I’m a human being who has a relationship with the Creator. And that’s a pretty cool thing. I think that’s way better than me just listing all of their sins. I don’t think that’s as effective.

Kay 31:52
Yeah, it’s, I don’t think it’s ever helpful to get into those they conversations. I mean, when we turn somebody into the other, or into they know that other group, have spent time with genocide survivors, I’ve studied it a bit, not not an expert, but I’ve been around it in the end the work that we do, and it always starts with making those divisions and polarizing people and scapegoating. And the name, just the dehumanization, in the language that we use. When we start calling names. When we don’t refer we don’t have a real relationship. And we teach it’s not ours, but it’s used in reconciliation programs around the world is this journey of journey of healed trauma journey of unhealed trauma, the only the The main difference between the two models is the storytelling. Yeah, that just tells you how important that is, like literally people live and die on our stories that we tell, really do.

Chris 33:01
They really do. And that’s a scary thing. I mean, you look at our political situation. Now, people believe the story that the election was stolen in the United States, and it was clearly disproven, easily, easily disproven. And what it did on January 6, will storming the Capitol was based on the power of a story. Not backed by facts, but it aligned with what they wanted to believe and created a day that those people, those democrats or whatever, are, are bringing this country down and there and the reason I am I No, don’t have the job I want or I’m not as wealthy as I want to be, or the world doesn’t look like it did when my grandparents were alive is because of those people. And so I’m going to go storm and capital stories have a real impact, which is, again, it’s one of the reasons I think that teachers are going to be judged harsher.

Because what we do, has a huge impact on people. So I think it’s, it’s vitally important that we as teachers, encourage folks to look deep. Like what I like to say is, oftentimes the problem that you’re having with somebody is not the real problem. So it’s like, if you get an argument with a loved one, we argue with our loved ones the most, because we love them, and they’re close to us. So you may be upset that somebody didn’t, you know, do the dishes. But what in reality, what’s behind that is you’re upset that they forgot your birthday, you know, and so maybe your reaction about the dishes is way over the top, because it’s not really the main issue. There’s something behind that. But I think what we, as Christian teachers can do is try to encourage people to look for that issue that’s behind something, rather than seeing the symptoms of that thing.

So, you know, if you’re, you know, the Bible does call homosexuality a sin, for example, but in the Christian world, that that sin, and there’s a lot of sins that all of us fall into, that sin has been elevated above all the other ones to be like the mark of the beast and that when it’s not, you know, and so we should be doing is seeing what’s behind that, that thing that sin and trying to minister the people, rather than to just be able to write them off as like, Oh, I can’t talk to you because you have this one sin that I don’t struggle with that.

Kay 35:23
Oh, yeah, you know gossip isn’t that same list?

Chris 35:25
I think it is. Yeah. When you look at you look at the words of Jesus and and then the Pharisees are all proud of themselves because they they haven’t committed adultery. And what does Jesus say? Well, if you have lusted after a woman in your heart, then you have committed adultery with her and honest to goodness, that’s going to put all of us into those categories. All of us are adulterers, if you’ve ever seen somebody who’s good looking, probably committed adultery in your heart. And so we, we forget that that levels, the playing field, and that’s a scary thing to think that I am on the same level as every other sinner.

But it’s also very freeing as a believer to be like, Okay, well, now I no longer have to be all judgy I can just go out there and be Christ to people. And there’s so much freedom. I don’t know, I got the soapbox in a second. But I feel like one of the things that should bind us together as Christians is that we have all admitted that we are sinners, that we we pray, but then we pretend like we aren’t, or we haven’t been centered. And that’s really dangerous. You know, we have to remember that Christ has saved all of us. And if but for the grace of God, we would all be lost in our sin. So we have no reason to be as high and mighty as we are. So anyway, end up end of soapbox.

Kay 36:49
Well, it’s it’s truth, right? And that’s, that’s what we’re responsible to do is to tell the truth, and people don’t always want to hear that. But like you said, as teacher that’s, that’s our responsibility. And so thank you for doing that. I want to encourage people check out truce, sit down and enjoy a few. It’s, it’s great for binge listening. You don’t have binge Listen, I mean, the episodes are, what, 20-30 minutes.

Chris 37:15
They’re between 20 and 40 minutes.

Kay 37:17
Yeah, okay. They’re not so long and heavy that you know, and there’s they’re really interesting, but go in with it with an open mind and ready to learn something. And context and context is so important, especially in this day and age, it’s hard to find. So thank you for doing that hard work. There’s one episode that I recently listened to, that I loved that you were using material from a book that you’d use to research the topic. But in rather than just quoting the book, or even reading from the book, or having somebody voice over what the author had said, you went and found the author and interviewed him. And so we got to hear what he had to say, and just those extra steps in a lot. I know, I’m thankful for that effort. And I hope that that does pay off for you sooner rather than later. It’s so good quality work like this good quality storytelling, and I’m talking to all yell, all you content creators out there, do the good work, and also realize that it that that is work that you should be getting paid for. And it’s okay to get paid.

Chris 38:28
And it’s Yeah, it’s important because as we were talking in the pre interview, I recently realized that I’m kind of poor, and it can be a really scary thing. I think a lot of content creators live in that space. And we all know what it’s like to have somebody come up and say, oh, would you do this thing for me for free, and they try to guilt you into it, but you deserve to be paid. And I think there’s a lot of backup in Scripture for that. Yeah. You know, the ox should not be muzzled while it reaps, you know, yeah.

Kay 38:56
in ministry and nonprofit we get the it’s kind of the same. Same type of thing. I’m right there with you.

Chris 39:01
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think it’s thing that’s so unfortunate, because we like, we like to have missionaries look sufficiently happy and also sufficiently poor. And like, the worst possible thing we can imagine is a is a missionary who’s well funded, because we love those stories of like, Oh, I got down to my last dollar, and then God sent a check. Well, I think those stories are actually really sad. Because it’s like, well, imagine what they could do if they didn’t have to go from check to check. It’s kind of a dehumanizing thing.

Kay 39:30
I love the stories where the missionary has, what they need to get where they’re going and do what God’s called them to do. And then we get to see God moving and providing in somebody else’s life, you know, and think that the stories we get then.

Chris 39:44
Yeah, I know, they’re not as dramatic. But, you know, it’s what we could do if our missionaries were well funded. I guess we could talk about that forever.

Kay 39:52
But yeah, well, for those of you interested in that conversation, the show before this one is my interview with Mary Valloni who is a fundraising coach for missionaries,

Chris 40:03
That’s it. Yeah. Good plug. Good cross promotion there.

Kay 40:07
That’s right. Chris, thank you so much for being on all the links are gonna be in the show notes. And so you’ll be able to find the truce podcast and connect with Chris on the different social media areas and do go give that a listen. And let us both know what you think.

Chris 40:24
Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. Kay, this has been great.

Kay 40:28
As always, the show notes are at This is Episode 60. So you’ll find the notes at Hey, if you enjoyed this show, and if especially if you check out Chris’s podcast, why don’t you go on and review both of them? That would really be awesome. And it would help us both out. That’s how podcasts grow is when you share it with your friends and when you write a review. So that’s why we talk about this thing so much. And that wraps it up until two weeks from now when we’ll be back with another episode. This has been the life and mission podcast I’m Kay Helm. Find your voice. Tell your story. Chang the world.


Listen to Truce Podcast

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