16 Jun 2022

It was a beautiful evening remembering Isabella Joy Thallas and loved ones lost to violence as we prayed for healing and peace at the second annual Bella Joy Gardens Memorial.

We stood with Ana Hernandez-Thallas to remember loved ones lost and to celebrate the life of her daughter Isabella Joy Thallas, a ballpark murder victim, whose life was tragically taken by gun violence on June 10th, 2020.

At this small park in the heart of Denver, we celebrated life with food, fun, and friendship. Then we entered into a time of remembrance, prayer, and a candlelight vigil to raise our light toward all who have suffered and mourned, spreading healing and hope with our lives in the city.

13 Apr 2022

On March 23rd, we gathered in response to the increase in violent crimes, gun violence, and lives lost in our city. Though there are complex issues that go into why we are experiencing this violence, the gathering was a response and a forum to express concerns, prayers, and insights in the pursuit of peace in our city.

Lewis “Proxy” Brown, A well-known musician, faith leader, and moderator for the evening highlighted that coming together as the Church in the city is a great first step. He stated the next step is then to “Be Peacemakers” – He shared that being a peacemaker is not the same as being a peacekeeper.

“A Peacemaker is someone who works on behalf of peace…And what’s hard about that is sometimes you have to first work through your own pain and grief for peace.”

We had the pleasure of having several leaders in the city share their stories and insights into their peacemaking journey.

One of those was Armondo Saldate, assistant deputy director of the Department of Public Safety. He shared that we have gone through a lot of trauma in the city that has been magnified by the pandemic along with many co-occurring issues. He shared that “I come here as a peacemaker… and we need more safe spaces to talk through the trauma.”

Armondo talked about putting leadership together to address the root causes co-occurring with violent acts in the city – and that “We cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem… Police are not going to solve every problem by arresting people and incarcerating them – putting them in that cycle is not the solution…A big part of what we need is in this room…”

28 Mar 2022

Now is the time to be focused on your Monthly Giving Program and appealing to those potential donors.

Though building relationships and nurturing donors happens year round it is tough to be focused and effective trying to spotlight multiple campaigns at once. So your monthly giving program can be focused on seasonally. Typically a good time to do this is between your spring and year-end fundraising campaigns. Right after your year-end campaign in the mid-winter into your spring campaign and after the summer break, late July into early fall before you would launch your holiday and year-end plans.

Your Monthly Giving Program is a very important component of your fundraising plan because:

A Monthly Giving Program can bring financial stability to your organization by moving one-time and annual givers up the engagement ladder to be more invested in your mission, increasing their lifetime giving value and increasing the likelihood of keeping those donors engaged in your mission long-term.

The beauty of a branded monthly giving program is that you can create a more loyal and engaged community within your giving circle. Think of these givers as long-term investors in the success of the mission. Companies engage investors differently from one-time customers and in the same way you need uniquely engage donors to create depth and stability for your mission.

A one-time giver is much like a one-time consumer, it may take several one-time engagements before they decide that they really like what they are putting their money towards. As a one-time giver becomes more consistent and engaged then you would then consider reaching out and inviting that person to become a monthly giver. Just like someone who may subscribe to a monthly purchase of their favorite coffee or streaming service. And since your mission is community-driven, this is your opportunity to create a circle of people that are more deeply invested, and connected to the community and the mission.

Here is an example of a Monthly Giving Program we developed for Kingdom Eyes, a faith-based disability awareness organization. Their Monthly Giving Program is called Kingdom Buildersbecause they have identified people who really like the mission and understand it takes an investment to see tangible and lasting change.

This program breaks down what the donor would be investing in and why. It then goes on to invite people into a quarterly gathering to grow spiritually, fellowship, and connect with like-minded people. The community-building opportunity is to make it fun and make it unique to your culture. An end goal would be that people walk away feeling good, at times challenged, and overall connected, knowing they belong to a community that matters.

See more here: kingdomeyes.org/Builders

25 Feb 2022

On February 16th, we celebrated Black History Month and it was an enriching experience. Amber Kierra, the founder of Kingdom Eyes, shared her insight on how to put on “Kingdom Eyes” to see where we are and where we are going.

She shared her story as a black, blind, female, offering a unique perspective on how to acknowledge and appreciate our differences. The talk was a hope-infused inspiration to love our neighbor and embrace our differences with an open heart.

She shared how she has found freedom from the perceptions and limiting perspectives of the world:

“I have three different ways I’ve learned to sing a freedom song as a black woman in America…through God’s Sovereignty, His Sight, and His Spirit”

“I know what it feels like to think that ‘Freedom will come…If only I wasn’t black…If only I didn’t have this disability…Or if only my skin wasn’t so dark.’ But because I’m a child of God I have the ability to be free right now”… “I can choose to live my life not by how the world sees me, but based on how God sees me.”

– Amber Kierra @amberkierra , Kingdom Eyes @kingdomeyesofficial

18 Oct 2021

Meet Amber! She is bridging the divide in our faith communities for those with disabilities and sharing her experiences and story as a solo, black, female, founder. Her story of God taking her pain and flipping it into possibility for herself and for those with disabilities is causing new vision and faith to rise up in people’s lives to see themselves as God sees them.

Meeting Amber and journeying with her has been an amazing experience that you will want to have!

Meet Amber @amberkierra & @kingdomeyesofficial

And check out her POSSIBILITY Campaign at KingdomEyes.org/Possibility

14 Jun 2021

It was an honor to stand with Ana Thallas to produce what became a beautiful memorial and celebration of her daughter whose life was taken by gun violence this past summer of 2020. Bella Joy Gardens is a park dedicated to her daughter Isabella Joy Thallas, a place of healing and hope for the community and to mourn loved ones lost to gun violence.

At this small park in the heart of Denver, we celebrated LIFE with food, fun, and friendship. We shared a time of remembrance, prayer, and a candlelight vigil to raise our light toward spreading healing and hope with our prayers and lives.


The evening included Food Trucks, Live Music, and a 3-on-3 Youth Basketball Tournament in partnership with Colorado Community Church, Church In The City-Beth Abraham, Denver Dream Center, Confluence Ministries, and Public Peace Initiative.

21 Sep 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

5 min read

Events are a love / hate relationship for many, but we all know that events drive engagement, that’s why we do them. Not all events are engaging and an event without the proper context can drive your budget into a hole. Now in our digital world we especially need to be thinking about context as our events are turning virtual. By establishing our “Why” and a strong narrative we will create meaningful context and engagement across live and virtual gatherings.

For years I’ve seen a ton of success integrating live events with digital campaigns. A well orchestrated campaign can provide a much needed and powerful context for your fundraising event. With this strategy it’s not about the event as much as it’s about the campaign as a whole. Making the event a compliment versus the main focus will allow you to leverage your fundraising event in a powerful story based framework to drive engagement toward your fundraising goals. So as we move into a virtual event landscape, we can make the digital campaign even more explosive, especially now that people are becoming normalized to the virtual meet-up. The digital and virtual landscape is dynamic. If we integrate virtual events with digital campaigns we will be able to elevate the event medium to make a more powerful appeal that highlights impactful stories, and casts a vision that inspires your constituents to give.

You may be thinking that the virtual event will never replace the in-person event, and I agree. In person connections will always be more meaningful but that doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage the digital landscape to create impact moments that can be just as lucrative!

According to recent study, Why America Gives 2020, “30% of survey respondents said they supported or participated in a virtual charity event since the start of the pandemic. Of those respondents, 60% said they donated and/or raised more in the virtual environment than they have for past in-person events. These results not only underline people’s willingness to participate virtually, but the possibility for greater levels of support.”

Event planners like Danielle Snelson are pushing the fold on virtual events and seeing a huge upside. The most noticeable upside is that virtual events can be a fraction of the cost to produce, which can allow you to increase returns by connecting with more people while cutting production time. An innovation that can cut down on time and expense while increasing revenue is definitely worth pursuing – and when you sync it up with a well orchestrated campaign, you may just see exponential returns.  

This is a great 10 min conversation with Danielle Snelson on her experience with virtual events.


Here’s the big take away: There is a huge upside to virtual events. Consider creating one and put it into context within a digital campaign. 

15 Aug 2020

On August 8th, 1968 the first Martin Luther King Blvd. was named and dedicated in Chicago. And on August 8th, 2020 we celebrated the MLK Blvd. in Denver and prayed together in unity.

We stood together in unity to form a nationwide, multi-ethnic prayer gathering to break the chains of racism and injustice.

Pray on MLK ( PrayOnMLK.org ) is an demonstration of holy activism— A two hour, nationwide prayer and worship protest located along every Martin Luther King Jr. street or memorial in the United States (and around the world). During the gathering for the first hour, people stood side by side, socially distanced, along a sidewalk with white tape over their mouths or over their face masks. People chose a one word prayer focus that they wrote on the tape. The goal was to turn every Martin Luther King Jr. street into an altar of prayer, where justice would roll like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream.

In Denver about 150 of us showed up to Pray On MLK. We planted seeds of hope, healing, peace, reconciliation, restoration, reformation and so much more. We might live in the most free place in the world, but like Jerusalem was the promise land for Israel, it wasn’t enough to have arrived. They needed to pray for the land to be fruitful and for the streams to be over flowing with water. So we know the current state of affairs in our society is not enough. May we continue the movement to break the chains of racism and invite the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. May we continue to pray for tears and ask God to break our heart for what breaks His. And may we continue to go to the streets to sow seed in tears to then return with shouts of joy!
 

“When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭126:1-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“God challenged me to move beyond anger and disappointment to lament, which I was able to do Saturday morning during a racial reconciliation Bible study I’m part of and follow that up on MLK as I asked God to bridge gaps, restore trust and relationship where it had been broken”

– PRAY ON MLK Participant –

01 Jun 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

5 min read

It’s the digital age and your organization has almost every tool at your disposal to communicate with people, and most of these tools are FREE! That’s amazing and exciting, but that also means there’s a lot of noise out there, because everyone is doing it.

The question is “How do you cut through the digital noise?” 

The good news is that you’re sitting on a gold mine, and the gold is in your story. 

Storytelling is a timeless framework that leverages all the good work that you’re doing and puts it into a compelling narrative that inspires people to to help you do the great work that you do!

This blog will touch on the basics and even give you a little more to get your storytelling started. So let’s walk through the Storytelling Framework.

Nonprofit Storytelling Journey

1.Character

This is the community you are serving. To develop the Character, you want to identify a single person who represents the whole. This person’s story is a glimpse into the struggle that people are facing. The details of the character such as their name, age, family, who they are, and their unique struggle are key pieces that will connect with your audience.

2. Conflict

This is defined as the unique problem that your Character is facing. The conflict is also connected to the larger problem in your community. For example though you may have a huge problem you are trying to solve, such as homelessness – For the sake of your story and your potential fundraising campaign, you will want to try to focus the story on a goal that you need to meet. Such as “We need $50,000 to upgrade our shelter facility”. With this goal you now have an achievable outcome and a filter in which you can choose the right character and proper story so that you can focus on how that character personifies the need to upgrade your shelter facility.

3. Guide

You and your organization are the guide. This is a very important role and a critical perspective for your organization to understand. You need your whole organization to be focused on guiding your constituents (donors, volunteers, and followers) on a journey to become the Hero of the story. These are the people who ultimately serve the needs of your community and therefore need to be communicated to accordingly. The way that you communicate will help your audience know that they are the most important part to the organization and ultimately the Hero that supports your community. If you confuse yourself, your organization, or your program as the Hero serving your community then you may be completely losing connection with your audience and ultimately losing support and impeding your impact. 

4. Hero

Your audience is your Hero – those people who are in your contact list – (Social Media Followers, Email Followers, Volunteers, Donors, and Constituents). Your audience wants to feel like they’re making a difference for the causes they care about. To do this you need these people to feel like they are the solution to the cause – because they are! Without their gifts, voice, and volunteer efforts then there is virtually no solution. Your supporters are the Hero of the story, so be sure not to confuse this with your organization and staff. This can be easy to do. You are in fact the Guide, not the Hero.

5. Call To Action

This is where you present your plan and make your appeal. The clearer you make your plan and appeal, the more impactful you will be. Though the actual internal plan, (facts and figures) may be full of detail and nuance, it is your duty to make it very simple and boiled down. As the Guide in the story, your constituents are looking for the answer to the problem and how to respond accordingly as the Hero. If you confuse them with facts, figures, and nuance then you will lose their attention and support! Remember, this is not a grant report. So it is very important that you present a simple plan; usually with 3-4 bullets with 1-2 sentences. Then let your audience know what you would like from them and why. 

Your “Why” is the most important question that needs to be answered for your audience and it needs to be answered with intention. You then use the conflict of your main character’s story to paint a picture of how life will be better for the community because they responded. Don’t shrink back on the appeal. Be intentional, direct, and invoke purpose and emotion. Your audience wants to feel like they are making a difference; and that feeling is a powerful retention moment for their heart to connect to your cause for the long term.

Now that you have the framework, consider what kind of stories you need to tell and then run those through the framework. For example, here are three primary stories that you need to be communicating:

1. Fundraising Stories – Stories that help your cause raise money.

2. Impact Stories – Stories that show impact, either successes or challenges.

3. Thank You Stories – Stories that show gratitude for your constituents.

Now let’s jump into a webinar with one of my favorite storytelling consultants. Lori Jacobwith keeps it very simple, and understands that you’re just getting started. Here’s the big take away:

“We ‘Think’ in story. Every decision we make is based on a story we tell ourselves. If we don’t feel something we can’t make a decision.” – Lori Jacobwith

Once you’ve thought through some of the story’s you could share, put it into action and reach out to me. I’d love to hear how it’s going!

19 May 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

3 min read

Now more than ever our ability to communicate through digital channels is a priority, particularly if we want to stay engaged with our donors and constituents. This is the first of a series of blogs that will hopefully help you think strategically about your communications and lead you on a journey to ultimately thrive in your marketing, fundraising, and outreach. I like to think of communications as the heart that is pumping blood through the body. With a healthy heart your organization is going to think clearly, speak effectively, and run productively.  

As we start out on this journey I’m going to guide you to one of my favorite resources on this topic which is a communications agency out of New York City. Their name is Big Duck and this is a webinar on communications called “Engagement” from their Nonprofit Communications Engine Series

Here’s the big take away: “Start with a strategy anchored in an understanding of your audiences, the actions you want them to take, and what’s in it for them.” – Big Duck


The Nonprofit Communications Engine online workshops session 2: Engagement from Big Duck on Vimeo.

Engagement with your audience is what drives donations, connects your services to constituents, and ultimately builds community around your cause. Effective engagement starts with your strategy not your tactics. While digital communications uses an array of digital channels to communicate, we also need to start at the beginning which is your strategy. So if a board member has a great idea about implementing the newest social media channel you can refer back to your strategy, overlay it with your audience personas, and then get a clear idea if it’s going to be the channel you need to implement or not. 

This is the type of thought leader I like to follow and being an active learner is what makes our work better. I hope that it helps you out!