Launching a Non-Profit Brand—and a Movement
Ben Bennett began work with Josh McDowell Ministry in 2017 as the two were studying mental health among Millennials and Gen Z. They found a disturbing trend in reported cases of anxiety, addiction (especially to porn), and suicidal ideation.
They decided to create a new initiative at the intersection of biblical truth, neuroscience, psychology, and social science. Of course, they couldn’t have predicted what was to come—a worldwide pandemic with an elevated discussion around mental health issues. (Read Ben’s personal story and learn about Resolution’s work here.)
But as Josh and Ben considered launching a new initiative, they started to ask how to establish themselves as thought-leaders in this space. Though Josh McDowell Ministry is a well-known brand, they wanted to reach a new generation.
“Long story short, we ended up realizing we need a name,” Ben says. “We need to do branding. We need to figure out how to put all of this together and launch it online and for it to look good, and get connected with the right people or reach the right spaces.”
Ben and Josh reached out to ArtSpeak for marketing and consulting. Gathered around a white board, we collaborated on writing down a vision and focusing on an audience. They also decided on a brand name: Uprising.
Next came marketing strategies to share Uprising’s message. In a whiteboard session with Jason, Ben and Josh brainstormed six months’ worth of social media content for every major platform.
The idea for a podcast came out of that session, too.
“I wasn’t planning on launching a podcast before that,” Ben says. “But Jason helped us see, ‘What if you did teaching content every two weeks and it’s like 30 minutes on self-image or about trauma, mental health, the seven longings that lead to a thriving life?’ And in that meeting I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
They went big. They got the microphones. They got the cameras to make it a video podcast. It was all set up—and then the pandemic happened.
But Ben wanted to go forward anyway.
“We started filming them all from my apartment, and we figured that out. I think it came out pretty well.”
Researching the Audience to Better Meet Their Needs
As ArtSpeak began developing Resolution’s non-profit branding, Ben and Josh also began writing a book. The book was a suggestion from Josh’s campaign manager as a way to do research, boil down their core message, and outline years of content.
“We looked at so many struggles people were dealing with, whether it’s mental health or body image or porn or shame or just ongoing sin struggles, unhealthy relationships. And we realized in our research what the cause was for about 90% of those,” Ben says.
“We all have these seven longings of our heart that drive everything we do. We desire to be accepted, safe, affirmed, to have attention. God created us in the garden to have those fully fulfilled.
“But we live outside of the garden. Those needs go unmet. Worse, they’re outright rejected. We experience trauma and abuse and hurt and we do something with that. We start believing lies about ourself, like ‘I’m not good enough.’ And then we respond with anxious thoughts, or we turn inward and become really depressed or find some way to cope.”
As they wrote the first draft of the book, Ben and Josh were able to hone Uprising’s core message, and, as the campaign manager predicted, the process helped them develop content that could be repackaged as part of their outreach.
“Having that all written out, we could say, ‘Oh, this could be an email series right here, this could be a YouVersion Bible plan, this could be a podcast episode, this could be a talk.’ It was really helpful to have to do all the research, spend several years doing that and have all of the messaging right there.”
Seeing (and Not Seeing) the Movement Build
Ben says, “I remember saying before we launched on social media, ‘I’ll be so excited for the day that somebody comes across one of our posts, through a hashtag or whatever, and was saved from suicide by it and finds answers and finds Jesus and finds freedom.’ That was my initial goal. Just even one person.”
There was the buildup toward the brand launch, the excitement, the satisfaction of doing research and working on the book, and then—
“The first six months, there were no stories. We heard nothing. Nobody was DMing us. Barely anybody was commenting on the content. I’m like, ‘Is God even using this? Is God even doing anything in people’s lives?’”
Ben and Josh also realized their brand’s name might not be working.
“We were trying to launch a global movement, and we quickly realized ‘Uprising’ might not work in countries where there have been political uprisings and those kinds of things that had different connotations.”
With a new brand that was approachable to a wider audience, and with a constant drip of podcast content, Ben and Josh slowly began to see results.
After about a year, people started to DM the Resolution Movement about once a month, then more frequently.
“We started trying to figure out how to get stories or ask people how they had been impacted. And just more and more people have started feeling comfortable reaching out.”
Then They Heard from Nate …
About a year after the launch, Ben heard about a guy named Nate from Mexico who became depressed when the world shut down from COVID-19. Nate was writing goodbye letters to people and attempted suicide.
“He came across our podcast, found hope, found what it means to have healthy relationships, how to get out of unhealthy relationships that are toxic or damaging to you. And he started relearning how God actually saw him, where his identity actually laid.”
Now, two years later, Nate is doing well. He graduated from college and is sharing his testimony about how God saved him from suicide. He even connected with somebody struggling with suicidal thoughts to bring encouragement and hope!
“God is always at work,” Ben says. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, people that are impacted are not going to tell you because you’re out there in cyberspace and they can’t see a face, and maybe they don’t know they have the opportunity to share that with you. But God’s always at work doing more than we could even ask, dream, imagine.”
In addition to the meaningful personal stories, the social media metrics started going up too.
Thirty-five days after Ben launched his personal TikTok, he said, “Twenty-two thousand people have commented on videos that they’ve prayed to give their life to Christ. And no ads on there. Just me doing three videos a day and millions of people watching the videos.”
Empowering a Grassroots Movement
Resolution is now empowering “Resolutionists” to lead its social-media-driven grassroots movement.
“They get into our online community through text. They go through training resources we have, and then we send them out to impact their sphere of influence, whether it’s in person at a church or their parent or in their high school or on social media.”
Ben recognizes that these leaders may be able to help people in their lives better than the Resolution Movement can on its own.
Plus, the work is not about Ben or simply growing Resolution Movement.
“Jesus had the three disciples who were in His inner circle and then 12 and then 500. He was investing in all of these people and doing life with them and resourcing them in a way. And then that’s how we got to where we are today—following Jesus because that person invested in that person who invested in those people who invested in those people, and it was a whole ripple effect. So that’s our goal: to serve others and to multiply.”
The Resolution Movement also partners with organizations that are working with people to heal their pain.
“Say somebody has a church and they’ve got a great recovery program, or they’ve got a great mental health program. We can come alongside them for a week or six weeks or six months and serve as a boost to what God is already doing because we’ve got this niche that likely they don’t have the time to focus on because they’re focusing on something else.”
That’s part of Ben’s advice to people who are trying to build brands to become influencers: “Figure out what nobody else is doing, or do something in a way that nobody else is doing it where there’s a need.”
Don’t Go it Alone
Another piece of advice from Ben: “Find people you can team up with, whether it’s ArtSpeak or whether it’s friends who join your ministry or volunteers, or maybe they don’t even work with you, but you have regular conversations about what’s going on in this ministry or business that you’re launching, and you can bounce ideas off one another or talk about the struggles of it.”
On working with ArtSpeak, Ben says, “Everything that God’s doing through the Resolution Movement would not be possible had it not been for you guys. It’s night-and-day different because of y’all’s expertise and strategy.”
If you need help finding your niche so you can get your message to the right people in the right places, we’d love to talk.
To learn how ArtSpeak can help you mobilize your movement, fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.