In this episode, Andrew visits with Kate Bryan, the founder and CEO of 1 Girl Revolution, an organization dedicated to telling the stories of women who are changing the world through their lives. Kate is also the author of Living the Feminist Dream: A Faithful Vision for Women in the Church and the World. Together, Andrew and Kate discuss 1 Girl Revolution and how storytelling, purpose, and authenticity are essential to fundraising.
Born and raised in Detroit, Kate has a BA in Theology and her Master’s degree in Public Affairs and Political Communication. After receiving her degrees, Kate established a successful career in PR and media. Three years ago, Kate moved back to Michigan and created 1 Girl Revolution.
1 Girl Revolution
1 Girl Revolution is a multimedia platform that highlights stories of everyday women changing the world through their lives. Kate started 1 Girl Revolution as a podcast that highlighted the many, many untold stories of women in the United States. Kate wants all women (all people!) to understand that they can make a difference. Kate shares of Dolly Parton’s wisdom, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose!”
From Podcasts to Documentaries
With so many stories to be shared, 1 Girl Revolution began as a podcast and grew into documentaries. The Girl Inside, 1 Girl Revolution’s first documentary, tells stories of incarcerated women in Cook County Jail. Kate shares that 1 Girl Revolution is working on its second documentary about a compassionate and innovative restaurateur in Milwaukee.
Storytelling and Authenticity
Andrew and Kate discuss lessons that fundraising professionals can take from Kate’s journey with 1 Girl Revolution. First, storytelling is important. Fundraising professionals can use stories to grab donors’ attention and bring them in to learn about the ministry or organization seeking funds. In order to successfully tell the stories in 1 Girl Revolution, Kate describes how she must invest in building relationships that are open and authentic. Likewise, development professionals find success in investing in authentic relationships with donors.
Kate’s book Living the Feminist Dream: A Faithful Vision for Women in the Church and the World hit the shelves in late 2021. In releasing her book, Kate hoped to challenge the way culture looks at Catholic women, and she highlights the personal role Catholics play in reaching out to others and proactively building community.
If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
Any of the women on the 1 Girl Revolution podcast. So many women are doing such good work around the country.
If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She’s so inspirational and generous, and I admire her as a person and as a businesswoman.
Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
Though I previously would have answered no to this question, after dipping my toes into raising funds for 1 Girl Revolution, I think I can honestly say that, yes, there is enough money out there. There is so much money out there and so many people who want to support the work that all of us are doing.
What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
Just do it!
Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
Greg Mueller, former boss at CRC Strategies in DC
Alfonzo Aguilar, another former boss. I worked with Alfonzo on immigration in DC.
Berni Neal, an amazing woman and friend in southern California who makes me want to be a better woman.
What is one fact about you that most people don’t know?
I grew up as an Irish dancer, and because of my Irish heritage and my Irish dancing skills, I was once named queen at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Detroit.
What is a book that you would recommend?
Fail Until You Don’t: Fight Grind Repeat by Bobby Bones
If you would like to connect with Kate, check out the 1 Girl Revolution website at https://1girlrevolution.com/. You can watch The Girl Inside documentary from this site as well! To check out Kate’s book, head over to Amazon and check it out here.
Didn’t I tell you that Kate gets stuff done? I am definitely impressed and in awe. So, what were my takeaways from this discussion?
First, I loved what Kate said about how she stays motivated. She had that great line about when she’s getting down or discouraged about life about looking at her own fingerprint to remember that she is a unique person created by God as a one of a kind original. And she had that quote from Dolly Parton, live who you are meant to be on purpose. I think that is a valuable lesson and a great perspective for all of us. In the world of ministry and in particular fundraising, life and work can get you down at times. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others who we think are constantly making it rain or just killing it all the time. I think that having models of success and models of desire in our lives is super helpful to show us the way, but if we then use that to beat ourselves up for not reaching those same levels of success, it ceases to be helpful. And the great thing about Kate’s analogy is that we all have fingerprints and we carry them with us everywhere we go. I know that I will remember to look at my fingerprint when i’m getting down and remember that God only made one set of those prints and He (and Dolly Parton apparently too) wants me to live my own life and know that I don’t ever have to prove myself to anyone as long as I remember that He loves me.
Second, Kate did a great job of talking about the work that she does and also the work that she does not do. When she was talking about focusing on American women and telling their stories, that is an intentional decision to find her niche and stay in that lane. I think that in ministry, it is easy to think that any idea can be a good idea, but diluting our efforts by trying to be all things to all people is quite dangerous in the long run. We go through this exercise all the time with Petrus. We are a team of fundraisers who know how to raise money for ministries really well. Are there other ways that we can serve the church? Sure. But, does that ultimately just end in distraction and serving to suck our energy and resources? Yes it does. It's the same thing with fundraisers working in their ministry. Are there a thousand ways to raise a dollar? Yep. Are you going to be more successful in the long-run if you stick to the basics of building a strong annual fund, cultivating donors with interest and financial ability and asking them for major gifts to fund your ministry? Yes you will be. Again, it's about finding your niche and committing to staying in that lane.
Lastly, this was a tactical tip to always look for the hook when telling a story or determining which stories to tell. Kate is right that without a twist, or an unexpected moment or some sort of conflict, a story just sounds like every other story. So when you are trying to decide who to feature in your things like your next newsletters donor profile, be discerning and look for folks with a good hook in their story. Your readers and donors will appreciate it and you will raise more money at the end of the day. So great point, Kate.
I was really inspired by this interview and will remember it for a long time. It probably helps that this interview actually almost never happened because our recording platform shut down multiple times and we thought that all the audio was lost…but that's a whole other story. Ha.
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