Live Big, Love Bigger: Interview with Kathryn Whitaker on the Petrus Development Show
Dec 10, 2019
In this episode, Andrew visits with Kathryn Whitaker: Catholic wife and mother of six, Business Owner, Graphic Designer, Blogger, and Author of Live Big, Love Bigger. Andrew and Kathryn discuss her professional background and her work in graphic design, especially with Catholic non-profits, with great tips, including the importance of cohesiveness in your brand and telling your ministry's story. They also discuss Kathryn's book, an extension of her blog, which sprung from the traumatic birth experience of her fifth child, and led to a more intentional, Christ-centered family life.
Background in Communication, Agriculture, and Construction
Met husband at A&M and converted from Evangelical Protestantism. Her husband worked as a stewardship and development director. They developed a passion and love for the Catholic Church and letting people know what beautiful things happen in the Church. In her professional life she learned a lot about design and photography and how to tell a story, then gave birth to their first child and didn't want to return to work.
Started taking graphic design clients. Eventually got connected to Petrus and dove into Catholic Campus Ministry and this has been her most favorite niche.
Don't forget about the students on the periphery. The influence of the ministries affects more than just the mainstream kids.
She works in print design. Has designed ministry brochures, newsletters, capital campaign materials (case statements, collateral materials, fundraising efforts, appeal letters, etc.)
She likes to work with a client that she can help to extend their brand so their web presence is reflected in their print materials. Cohesiveness is important.
Good design takes time and intention; not necessarily just money. Stop putting energy into stuff that isn't needed. Just because something has always been done, doesn't mean it has to continue at all costs. Archbishop Aymond would say "The number one sin is turfism." Let things go and say what is the greater good? What is the greater mission? Tell the story! People won't give to a ministry they don't know about. And they don't give to causes they don't feel connected to.
Examples of clients journeyed with creating cohesiveness through branding:
University Catholic Center with UT: Her first client through Petrus and it was great to work with them from the ground up
Michigan Tech: Great pastoral leadership, Great student photographers, Leadership: Know who you serve and asking them to participate using their talents.
Design lessons learned that make an impact on development:
Use less words and tell better stories. Quantifiable data is good, but photographs and witness tell a story. Numbers in Mass are a result of what's happening in the ministries. What is the mission and story you want to tell and how do your articles, etc, reinforce that mission and tell that story? Don't make the numbers the main emphasis. Donors always say they gave because they had a direct interaction. Marketing: When we see a group of people, we might have a connection, but when we see an individual, we form a much stronger connection.
Everyone has a story. You don't have to find the story. Just go talk to the people that you serve.
Trends/Changes in Design over your career in design:
- Things used to be duo-tone, columns,
- Past 5-10 years things are now more journalistic in their approach. Bold graphics, like a magazine, with pull quotes.
- She always tells clients decide what your text will be and then cut it in half. Unless you can draw people in graphically, they won't read a lot of text. Won't spend the time reading articles. They might spend 5-10 minutes with your piece if you get them to open it.
- Less details. Powerful "sound bites"
Some Design Advice:
- Make sure your website and print design are cohesive!
- You need high resolution images of your brand/logo. Treat your brand with integrity. You should have brand guidelines.
- Readability: Body text needs to be legible. Also, think about age of your donors and make sure the font isn't too small
Live Big, Love Bigger
Fifth baby was premature. Emergency surgery at 9 days old. Had a very slim chance of survival. Now ten years old. He really transformed their family life - more intentional and Christ-centered. Began her blog as an outlet. Book was an extension of the blog. Hope that bits and pieces of her story will help others. Ultimately about how God redeemed their family. Wanted people to know they were not alone in their suffering.
Has been a gift to witness different communities and how they support each other. How beautiful the Body of Christ is.
Fr. Dave with Busted Halo. Greatest treasure to see people using their gifts for what God has called them to.
God has woven all of our stories together. Speechless to hear what people take from tiny pieces of her book and how God orchestrated things.
Challenge to deep clean and purge the house in 10 days. Had to go through the closet of Luke's NICU stay. (son was 7 or 8 at the time) Had to mourn the loss of "normal." Learned to be grateful. Bishop Gerber quote: "A grateful heart silences a complaining voice." Confronted the fears and pain, and then let them go. Had saved that experience but then purged it and was one of the hardest, most freeing moments.
We answer no for people all the time in fundraising. We don't give people the opportunity to answer us. The hardest things in life that we are the most afraid of end up being the most freeing experiences. The mystery of the Cross. When we embrace the thing that hurts the most, the easier it is to let the hard things go. You don't get Easter Sunday without Good Friday first. Grief and suffering will transform us if we let it.
"If comparison is the thief of joy then gratitude and an awareness of just how rich in love we really are must be the cure." - Kathryn's husband
Recommended Books and Resources
- Stephen King's book on writing. Helped her embrace her voice.
- Bob Goth: Love Does and Everybody Always
- Renee Brown: Daring Greatly
- Living Your Strengths
She keeps designs of what she loves. (mailers from politicians and food service, etc)
Loves Whataburger campaigns. Buc-ees. What is your niche? Embrace it and build your brand around that.
Don't just have to take your influence from faith based groups
1. Catholic Schools
2. Grandfather. WWII Generation.
3. People don't give because we don't ask.
4. Ask for help sooner
5. Graphic designer from her husband's office: helped her find her niche, Printer who encouraged and affirmed her, Fr. Dave Dwyer: challenged her
- Know your audience
- Use fewer words
- "A grateful heart silences a complaining voice."
- Think of 5-10 people you're thankful for and write them a note of gratitude.