Storytelling

"Vibrant People of Elkhart County" Article by Brea Persing

I am honored and humbled to say that I was nominated and chosen to be one of Elkhart County’s Vibrant Women of Nappanee last week. On May 27, Memorial Day, an article was published about me through 365 Vibrant People of Elkhart County recognizing me, and my mom on May 23, as Vibrant Women doing good in the community. I am proud of my mother and all she has accomplished and I am proud to be following in her footsteps in being a hardworking and proud member of our community.

You can find the original article on Vibrant Communities.

Here is the article below, posted on May 27, 2019.

Brea Persing

For the past week, we have written about some of Nappanee’s Vibrant Women. We end our series with Brea Persing. Brea is a Vibrant Person who has lived in Europe and Asia. She has found herself back in Elkhart County.

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Brea Persing is home. For a while, at least. Nappanee is where she is from and where she is now, but for much of her adult life, Brea has been elsewhere.

After getting her degree in Visual Communication from the University of Indianapolis, Brea spent almost seven years based in Europe and Asia. She worked for a not-for-profit organization as a photographer and graphic designer. She would travel to places near and far to capture images that, not only told a story but made a visual impact.

Looking at Brea’s work you can see her interest in the details. Whether it is a field of lavender, a Moroccan woman in a kitchen, or the family’s Goldendoodle, Radar with a face full of snow, the images Brea produces will catch your eye and hold your attention. 

Brea also produces websites and hers is worth a visit. At breapersing.com, you will find photos and stories. Her blog is informative, often amusing and always readable. Brea is an adept storyteller. She can leave you satisfied or make you hungry to hear more.

Now that she is back in Elkhart County, Brea wants to use her talents to help other non-profit organizations tell their stories. She is offering her professional skills to help them create awareness and inspire people to support them. This August, Brea will be a featured speaker at a conference for the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Brea has seen much of the world in her young life. There remain places to go and there are things she wants to someday do. Brea is also happy to be here, with her family, doing good work. We’re glad she is.

Volunteering by Brea Persing

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Being a photographer with a focus on nonprofits and NGOs, I have been asked multiple times if I’d be willing to photograph for free. Well, no. I am running a business and need to pay bill just like you do. But on occasion, I have been known to trade services and/or do pro bono work for something I am very passionate about. 

When it comes to pro bono work, I’ll only take on 1-2 per year and with certain requirements and restrictions of the type of work, country and duration of the project. Plus it has to be something that goes along with my convictions and such. I am not interested in unethical storytelling and using people, so I am very careful as to the type of assignments I will take. 

Since moving back from overseas, I have been trying to figure out where I was going to settle when it came to churches. There was the church I grew up in, but I wasn’t sure if that is where I wanted to hang my hat. I started seeking out other churches to see where I wanted to land. There was one I really liked, but it was a 45 minute drive. I didn’t want to do that. But as I was doing that, I started to appreciate the church I grew up in and not feel like I had to go there because of growing up there and my family still going there, but wanted to.

With that, I wanted to wait some time before I dug in and got involved with ministry things at the church. But then I saw it…the church was looking to expand its photography team and add new people. It was time and so I jumped in with both feet. This is the one place where I will volunteer my time without many conditions. It’s been exhausting, but also very rewarding. I wasn’t sure if they were going to like my style of photography, but they did. And at this point, I wasn’t as good in low light situations, but it’s given me the opportunity to work on that to the point that I feel more comfortable in low light situations now. I also didn’t want to be in front of people, or be intrusive (one of the reason’s I haven’t been as eager to capture weddings), but I have learned to get over it…wearing back really helps with that! It’s been a time of stretching and learning, which is always great. One should always aspire to be a continual learner in every area of life.

I am glad I decided to take the step and get involved and use my talent to help those who stood with me while I was overseas, prayed for and encouraged me for so many years.

Here are some of my favorite shots to date:

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A group of visiting Kenyan pastors took over worship

A group of visiting Kenyan pastors took over worship

A group of visiting Kenyan pastors took over worship

A group of visiting Kenyan pastors took over worship

Baby Dedication

Baby Dedication

Baby Dedication

Baby Dedication

Nonprofit Marketing by Brea Persing

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I hear it lot, “we just don’t have it in our budget to hire a photographer.” I understand, I do. Many nonprofits do not have a lot of “extra” funding. But just like in business, marketing is very important. People can't buy products if they don’t know there are products to buy. You have to spend money to make money. It’s an investment. Not a short-term one, but a long-term one. Marketing, paired with good design and photography, should be a HIGH priority. Let me tell you why. Good design and photography tells your current and potential donors that you are serious, professional and care about your image and cause. It tells people that you are serious about telling your story in a way that is impactful. It’s an investment and a very wise one.

Did you know that 65% of people are visual learners? People process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. In an instant, the right image can create lasting emotional impact. Pictures create change—taking a person from being a passive viewer to an active donor, client or customer.

Don’t believe me? Last year I partnered with a nonprofit, who will remain nameless because of security, where I took photos of their project and gave their website a makeover. We marked the progress of giving over the year and their profits increased by $47,000! That was a 20% increase! That is a sizable increase! It also means more people sharing the vision and cause of that nonprofit with others, giving them even more opportunity to gain additional funding.

This organization invested in a better, more visual way to share their story, and it made a difference!

What would your organization be able to do with a 20% increase in funding?

Want some more to read on this subject, here is a great article from NGO Storytelling: Why Your Nonprofit Should Care About Visual Storytelling.