This is a story about how Kathy Wallen met Andy and Ashley McEntire six years ago and how the resulting friendship blossomed into a new organization that aims to share stories of good works to an international audience.
The three Lakeland residents today announced the creation of GiveVisuals Inc., a non-profit organization that will collaborate with filmmakers around the world to illuminate the work of emerging non-profit organizations.
The organization was founded by Andy and Ashley McEntire, who serve as its co-chairs. Wallen, whose career has focused on marketing and public relations, has been hired as the group’s full-time CEO and “storytelling strategist.”
Their meet-cute story starts at a Lakeland Kiwanis Club meeting in 2013 when Wallen was club president. After she promoted her pet project, funding bus shelters, a volunteer in the kitchen of the meeting venue, First United Methodist Church, told Wallen, “You need to meet my son.”
Through Indie Atlantic, Andy and Ashley had begun a “give-back” program that produced pro bono videos for local non-profits. (You can see some of them on the company’s Vimeo page.)
The upshot is that Indie Atlantic made a video about the Kiwanis bus-shelter project, and as Wallen put it, “We found we have a really groove working together and being creative together.”
She adds: “I’m grateful that two extraordinarily busy people are willing to do this. They run two businesses already (Indie Atlantic and Concord Coffee) so to be philanthropist leaders on top of it is just outstanding, and with a young family…” The McEntires have a young son and a second child on the way.
“Our goal is to marry community service and storytelling” by providing the films at no cost to the profiled organizations, Wallen says.
By establishing GiveVisuals as a non-profit separate from Indie Atlantic plan, the McEntires say they plan to:
- Increase the number of films they produce about non-profits.
- Spread their reach internationally.
- Get other filmmakers involved.
“There are tens of thousands of emerging charities around the globe working tirelessly in service to others, fighting poverty, disease and isolation,” Andy McEntire said. “These innovators are changing the world one life at a time. Too often, the work done by these agencies remains unrevealed.”
The visual stories created by Give Visuals “are going to be films, and not videos. These are going to be narrative films, and not informational films,” Andy McEntire says. “So these films humanize people, they inspire people and push people to action based on how they feel vs. information they get.”
The plan is to start with one film every quarter and then increase to monthly films.
To do that, GiveVisuals will recruit talented filmmakers willing to contribute their efforts at no charge. They’re approaching documentarians “who we think have the standards, the certain experience, equipment, cinematic style,” Andy McEntire said. Interested individuals can also apply online and submit their work.
“This is about inspiring other filmmakers to give back,” he said. “Most filmmakers want to give back, they just don’t know how.”
Wallen said after learning about the the non-profits, she will work with the filmmakers on story development and Andy will train them and ensure standards are met. “And Ashley will help us make it better,” Andy said.
The first film produced by Give Visuals, released today, profiles Lakeland’s Volunteers in Service to the Elderly:
Since GiveVisuals is planning an international reach, they are beginning to investigate options for translating of captioning videos in languages other than English.
GiveVisuals will focus on emerging non-profits around the world, Wallen said. Indeed, McEntire produced his first give-back film for a nonprofit when he and Ashley traveled to Korea for a conference and visited an orphanage for children with disabilities run by a woman called the “Mother Teresa of Korea.”
Organizations can apply online, and Wallen said the team will be looking for agencies at a “pivot point, where you’ve grown so far, and if you have a lift, you can take it to the next level.”
That pivot point can happen at agencies that are large or small, young or older. While Viste has been around for awhile, Wallen explained, they are at a pivot because they are ramping up their efforts as Polk County’s senior population swells.
Many of the organizations that will be profiled don’t have the resources yet to pay for a film, Wallen said. As a result, Andy McEntire said, they don’t see the project as taking work from established video companies.
Before the films are made, the profiled organizations agree to provide quarterly reports for up to three years that measure things like growth in funding, volunteers and clients. In some cases, they may be asked to use crowdfunding to offset expenses.
Despite the international scope of the project, it is based squarely in Lakeland, the McEntires say. Wallen will undoubtedly travel, but she’s working out of her home office.
The board members are local or have local ties, but also are interested in philanthropy in other parts of the world, Andy McEntire said. They include:
- Carol Aebersold of Palm Coast, co-author of “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” Ashley McEntire was previously her personal assistant on book tours.
- Ashley Robin Bell Barnett, a local community advocate and member of the Polk State College Board of Trustees.
- Bryan and Jessica Edwards, Florida Southern College grads who moved to Nashville. Bryan, a singer-songwriter, will help GiveVisuals with access to music and musicians.
- Lora Kellogg, president and CEO of Curious Jane, a Lakeland-based advertising agency, who has worked with the GiveVisuals team on messaging.
- Molly McEntire of Lakeland, Andy’s sister and the Florida United Methodist Conference’s mission trainer and volunteer coordinator.
- Emily Woodsby, a community advocate and systems engineer.
Ultimately, the team hopes to hold conferences and other events in Lakeland.
The largest chunk of start-up funding came from Indie-Atlantic. As a 501c3 organization established in 2018, GiveVisuals accepts tax-deductible donations and is seeking corporate partners. Wallen is investigating potential grants.
“We’re working off a very modest budget,” Andy McEntire said. “We’re looking to the volunteer filmmakers to keep overhead down and be good stewards.
“We want to tell stories that matter; we want to change lives. There’s a power in storytelling. Our hearts are in this.”